WALKERTON - Kim Tokoly knows better than most coaches what her athletes are missing with this spring’s unprecedented cancellation of high school sports due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Not too many years ago, Tokoly was one of the John Glenn girls track athletes she now coaches and has for the last three years. But instead of getting her Lady Falcons ready for large local meets like the Dennis Rippy Invitational that Glenn hosts or LaVille’s Lancer Relays, Tokoly is doing her best to adjust to the strange circumstances.
“I miss being able to see the young ladies perform in their event(s) that they have been training so hard for in the off season,” she said. “I miss the team/coach bonding that we have with one another. Mainly, I just miss my track family and seeing each and every one of my athletes grow either on the track/field and in the classroom.”
The 2010 Glenn graduate participated in cross country, basketball, and track while in high school before she headed to Wisconsin Lutheran College. She ran cross country and played basketball her freshman year of college. Her WLC team even participated in the NCAA Division III basketball tournament that year (winning its first round game, but lost in the second round of the tournament), but still those high school memories stand out.
“My senior year of high school, winning the Lancer Relays and going to regionals for cross country are some of my favorite athletic memories,” Tokoly admitted. “The bonding/friendships that grew with my teammates over the time of my athletic career, whether it was in high school or college, were very special. A lot of them are still my friends today.”
And now - when given the chance under normal circumstances - it is her turn to share her enthusiasm and knowledge of athletic competition to the latest generation of Glenn athletes.
“I have always had a passion for teaching and helping others,” said Tokoly, whose day job is teaching 5th grade at North Liberty Elementary School. “I love watching the girls (on the track team) grow and mature over the years. It is such a good feeling to see them change from one year to the next year. They sure make me proud!
“Watching (current junior) Cici Delinski at the state track meet her freshman year in 300 hurdles (has been one of my favorite coaching moments.)”
Initially though, her work life was headed in a totally different direction. She graduated from WLC with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing in 2014, but never entered that field.
“No, I never worked as a nurse,” Tokoly said. “I started to do substitute teaching and coaching right out of college instead.”
She completed her Transition to Teaching degree from Bethel College in 2017, the same year she took over the Glenn HS girls track program. She has also been actively involved in coaching middle school and elementary boys and girls basketball since 2014.
“This was a way that I could help others and also enjoy being a coach as well,” Tokoly continued. “I have always wanted to do that and with nursing that wasn’t always going to be an easy find.”
During the summer months, she works as a Seed Corn Inspector for Indiana Crop Improvement Association, something she has been doing since the summer going into her senior year of high school.
Currently, her work is taking place at home as the school year finishes under an e-learning set up.
“My new classroom is the desk in the corner of my living room,” she joked.
The work-at-home arrangement has given her more time to spend with her two sons though - active 8-year-old Riley and Wesley, who is just turning two.
“I enjoy spending time with my family, watching my oldest son play sports, family game nights, bike rides, staying active, and yard work,” said Tokoly about her free time. “We are trying to stay active and go outside on family walks/bike rides when the weather is nice. We play lots of family games together.”
If there has been a positive to not having the usual time demands from coaching track this spring, it’s that Tokoly has had the chance to be the athlete again.
“I have tried to consistently workout and be active each day,” she said. “I normally do not have the time to do this. Now as I am working from home I make sure that I have time each day to focus on just myself.”