John Rockey coached for 39 years in the Franklin Central system, the past eight leading the boys basketball program. On Thursday, he was called into a meeting by athletic director Greg Orr and told the school planned to go in a different direction.
“No ‘thank you’ or anything,” Rockey said.
Rockey admits the program did not win enough the past two years. The Flashes were 3-20 this season after going just 4-18 the previous year. But Rockey did lead Franklin Central to four consecutive sectional titles from 2013-16 and was named Marion County Coach of the Year in 2015. His career record was 84-106.
“We struggled for the last two years, but we knew going in that we had lost a lot of seniors and were going to be playing younger kids,” Rockey said. “Next year was going to be the year we would start bouncing back. Anybody that knows anything could see that.”
Four of Franklin Central’s top six scorers this season were sophomores, including leading scorer Javon Small. The Flashes lost two games in overtime and four more by five points or less.
“Personally, I felt like we competed every night and had a good young staff,” Rockey said.
On Friday, the school released the following statement:
“We would like to thank Coach John Rockey for his years of service to all of the athletic programs in Franklin Township. Coaching basketball, baseball and football for the last 39 years has allowed Coach Rockey to positively impact the lives of countless Franklin Township students. For that we are forever grateful.”
Rockey was hired out of Wabash College and spent his entire career teaching and coaching in Franklin Township. He coached as an assistant under Mark James for 26 years. When James was hired at Ben Davis after the 2010-11 season, Rockey was elevated to head coach. James, who won a state championship at Ben Davis in 2017 just competed his first season at Perry Meridian.
“I think being the basketball coach was probably keeping me in (teaching),” Rockey said. “I’m probably not going to coach basketball anymore (at another school). I thought it would end a little different than it did.”
Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.