#1StudentNWI: Serving through change at Penn High School

#1StudentNWI: Serving through change at Penn High School

What’s recently happened?

Penn High School (PHS) hosted co-ed volleyball intramurals for students ninth - 12th grade every year during the month of May. 

Teams could be co-ed and consisted of five girls and five boys, where only two current volleyball players at PHS were allowed on each team. 

PHS has a Girls Volleyball program that has been successful in the past years, but it does not have a Boys Volleyball program. This is an opportunity for the men to show off their volleyball talent. 

Volleyball intramurals at PHS are always great because they encourage people to be active with the school, and it is a place for people to meet new people and create relationships. Intramurals in general encourage athletes to try a new sport because everyone is there playing for fun and there is no pressure on winning.  

This year was different at intramurals; there had been some rumors going around about a possible Boys Volleyball program. When people heard this, some did not think that a Boys Volleyball program would be a success, but the guys that played volleyball loved the news. 

This rumor was spreading fast, and intramural volleyball was coming up. Many guys realized that this was their moment to show everyone that adding a Boys Volleyball program would be a good idea. The guys picked their teams and arrived on the first day of intramurals. 

Intramurals were played every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday for three weeks in May. It was a success; not only was it very fun, but everyone was able to display their share of talent, especially the guys. 

A few of the players on the Girls Volleyball program mentioned how intramurals this year were different then all of the other years.This year’s intramurals were special, and this year was the most fun they’ve had at PHS intramurals. 

This was very good news for the guys that wanted a Boys Volleyball program. If PHS did add a Boys Volleyball program as an official Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) sport, it would be played in the spring season of 2024. 

Any fall athlete would be able to play volleyball; many of the athletes that are interested in the program play soccer. Soccer is played in the fall, so this would allow all who are interested to play. If PHS will be adding a Boys Volleyball program they will also need a coach. 

The athletic directors at PHS are still investigating whether or not a Boys Volleyball program would be a good thing for the school. Spring 2024 is still one year away, so there is a lot of time to think about this decision, and to promote the idea.

Until then, the guys hope to still have opportunities to show their talent and potential. They will make sure to not let this rumor die, but instead they will continue to spread it and make it grow until, hopefully, it becomes a reality.    

What’s coming up?

Summer is almost here, and students are pushing through their last assignments. Most students are studying for finals while others have already entered “summer mode.”

In these last couple days of school, teachers hand out the last few assignments and students do their best to finish strong. 

For most students, summer is a time to be outside and to enjoy the weather, and to have a break from school. For other students, summer is a time to work and save money for a future education or a certain aspiration. There are even students whose summer is time for fun camps. 

PHS will be offering a variety of sports camps and many other fun and special events throughout the summer. For young athletes, PHS offers its Kingsmen athletic camps that run from June 5 until July 21. 

The Kingsmen athletic camps offer a variety of sports including baseball, basketball, soccer, wrestling, tennis, dance, volleyball, track, football, cheerleading and many more. For students who enjoy mastering the art of communication, PHS offers its Speech & Debate Camps that run from June 19-23 and June 26-30. Both weeks are for grades six-eight and are an introduction to the important life skill of communication. 

The PHS Robotics team also runs a camp for the youth. The two weeks of camp run from June 5-9 and June 12-16. The sessions and times are broken down by grade levels first – eighth grade skill sets. Depending on their age and skill level, students will get to work with Legos, coding, 3D art, and much more. 

At every summer camp, whether it is with the school or outside of school, there is an opportunity for high schoolers to serve. High schoolers are able to serve their community and the younger generations who enjoy trying many new skills and activities. 

Summer camps are another place where everyone, no matter the age, can create life-long friendships and memories.

Staff spotlight:

PHS has hired a new Boys Basketball coach. After Coach Al Rhodes’ retirement, Coach Barak Coolman has taken his place as head coach. Coolman served as an assistant coach for Indiana High School coaches Al Rhodes and Chris Johnson. 

Coolman and Rhodes have worked together in the past. Rhodes, knowing of Coolman’s basketball experience, recommended him to take the head coaching job.

Coolman also learned as a player and an assistant coach from National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Championship Coach Mike Lightfoot at Bethel University.

His knowledge of the game and his passion for basketball were a perfect fit for PHS. Coolman is excited to get to know all the guys and ready to begin the season. 

“The opportunity to coach Boys Basketball at Penn High School is extremely humbling and exciting for me and my family,” Coolman said. “Being able to lead such a prestigious program in the footsteps of Hall of Fame coach Al Rhodes is an incredible honor.”  

The Boys Basketball program has a new era that will begin next winter. Coolman says that the team wants to represent its community in a positive light. It will work to be the best at everything it does. 

Will Coolman and his players be able to bring the first State Championship to PHS? The players will respect each other and the new staff as they all hope for success next winter. 

Coolman, with his knowledge and experience, will lead the Kingsmen to a memorable season. He will bring them together as a family, and they will be ready for success.      

Student spotlight:

Kate Trueblood is a senior at PHS. She will be graduating this spring and going to Daemen University in Amherst, New York. Trueblood began doing summer camps when she was young, and the first official team that she played on was in fourth grade. 

Trueblood played volleyball during her four years at PHS, where she created many relationships and great memories.

“Some of my highlights from Penn volleyball were going undefeated on the freshman team, the game at Munster my sophomore year, playing in the Semi-State as a junior, and beating Warsaw in five sets my senior year.” Trueblood said. 

Trueblood plays as a middle blocker, so she is mostly in the front row throughout the game. 

During her years at PHS, it was crucial that she got the support she needed from family, coaches, staff and friends as she considered playing at the college level. 

Trueblood shared that her volleyball years at PHS helped her to grow so much as a player as they always pushed her to her full potential. She mentioned that the coaches were always there for her and helped her develop her skills through summer training and practices. 

PHS volleyball allowed her love for the game to grow and showed her what being part of a great culture was like. This has helped Trueblood take her game to the college level, and prepared her for the challenges that are to come with the new college life. 

Her family has always been there for her, they have pushed her to be the best version of herself, and she could not have done it without them. 

Trueblood picked Daemen University because that was a place that she would be happy to call her home for the next four years, and she knew that the coaches there would continue developing her, not only as a player, but as a person.