The camaraderie and forever bond of Penn’s “Long Black Line” was prevalent among the more than 100 former Penn football players and coaches who showed up Friday night, August 19, 2022 to help dedicate the Chris Geesman Kingsmen Athletic Center. Click to view pictures from the pregame recognition.
As part of the P-H-M Education Foundation naming rights campaign, Dr. and Mrs. Jerry Thacker generously donated $25,000 in December 2021 to the Education Foundation to have the Kingsmen Athletic Center at Penn High School’s TCU Freed Field named after Penn’s legendary championship football coach, Chris Geesman, renaming the facility the Chris Geesman Kingsmen Athletic Center.
Coach Geesman and his family, Dr. and Mrs. Thacker, Head Coach Cory Yeoman, and the entire Penn football team were on hand for the dedication of the newly renamed facility taking place at halftime of the Penn Kingsmen’s first home football game of the 2022 season against Valpo. The Kingsmen won 35-6. It was a very special night; take a look …
Geesman, a Hall of Famer coach, came to Penn 1973. The previous season, Penn had a 0-10 record. In Geesman’s first season, the Kingsmen posted a 5-5 record. In addition to the five state championships, Geesman led Penn to 309 wins, and the Kingsmen never had a losing season during the span of his 30-year career as head coach of the Kingsmen.
“Donna and I are truly honored to have the Kingsmen Athletic Center named after this legendary coach who guided the Kingsmen to five state championships and three state runners-up,” said Dr. Thacker. “It’s only fitting that a facility built to provide Penn student-athletes with the best on field playing experience be named after the coach that led Kingsmen Football to so many wins.”
Penn’s Geesman Athletic Center is a 13,264 square-foot facility that was completed in October, 2018. It houses three locker rooms to be rotated during the Fall and Spring sports seasons: Football (Varsity, JV and Freshmen), Track & Field (Boys & Girls) and Girls Lacrosse. All three locker room areas have adjacent coaching staff office space and an on-site training room, giving Penn athletic trainers access to equipment and medical treatment supplies. Click here to read more details about the Athletic Center when it first opened.
Since 2008 and including the naming rights contribution, as Superintendent of P-H-M, Dr. Thacker has contributed $194,850 to the P-H-M Education Foundation. Besides the $25,000 pledged to the Naming Rights Campaign some of the other programs he has contributed to include:
- $20,000 in matching funds for the Annual Drive
- $25,000 Corporations for Education (matching funds)
- $15,000 Silver Mile
- $39,550 total to Thacker Scholarship funds
The mission of the Education Foundation is to develop alternative sources of income to support education initiatives in the School Corporation by strengthening partnerships between the community and the District. PHMEF supports education through awarding innovative teaching grants, scholarships to students, staff development and other corporation-wide initiatives.
“Our goal is to provide P-H-M teachers and staff with access to grant funding for unique and creative educational programs that fall out of the school district’s budget,” PHMEF Executive Director Jennifer Turnblom. “We support P-H-M teachers by helping to ensure that they have access to the best education tools. Community partners are vital to sustaining P-H-M excellence in education.”
PHMEF’s naming rights commitment is $25,000, payable at a rate of $5,000 per year over five years. The naming rights last for 12 years. 80 percent of the donation goes into the Foundation’s endowment, which in turn provides alternative and additional funding for various P-H-M co-curricular and extracurricular programs. The remaining 20 percent directly funds professional development initiatives for P-H-M teachers. Continuing education and training of teachers is a major priority for P-H-M School District.
“The Foundation Board and I are so appreciative of Dr. and Mrs. Thacker’s generosity through the years,” said Turnblom. “Their unwavering support has been a tremendous help to us fulfilling our mission. The Thacker’s donations alone have made it possible for the Foundation to fund approximately 20% more classroom grants, activities and programs possible for the students of all P-H-M’s 15 schools. Their impact has been nothing less than incredible!”