Former NH athletic director Oppel honored by peers
Keith Oppel, former athletic director at North Harrison High School, was recently recognized by his peers at the annual Indiana Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association convention.
At the IIAAA’s banquet, Oppel was presented the Charles F. Mass Distinguished Service Award, which goes to any individual whose primary duties at some point have been athletic administration.
Hal Pearson, North Harrison’s current athletic director, noted that Oppel continues to provide a service to the Cougars’ school community even after retiring.
Since his retirement after the 2006-07 school year, Oppel can still be seen at Cougars’ sporting events. Oppel is the clerk at track and field and cross country meets hosted by North Harrison. When North Harrison hosts a sectional, Oppel is often a volunteer taking care of the needs of game officials and umpires, serving as the official guest host.
‘When I was sick with the flu, Keith stepped right up and helped me out,’ Pearson said.
Oppel won the award for District 5, which encompasses the area between Tell City, Orleans, Bedford and New Albany.
Oppel’s career began as a teacher at his alma mater, North Central High School, in 1967 in the field of science, health and physical education. In 1969, the Middle Tennessee State (bachelor’s) and Indiana University (master’s) graduate moved to North Harrison High School to teach the same subjects until 2007. Beginning in 1988, Oppel started his stint as athletic director.
Oppel’s coaching resum’ is extensive. He coached JV boys’ basketball (1968 to 1973 and 1975 to 1981), boys’ track and field (1970 to 1990), boys’ cross country (1974 to 2000), seventh-grade boys’ basketball (1985 to 1988), freshmen boys’ basketball (1988 to 1991), girls’ cross country (1988 to 2000) and girls’ softball (1994 to 1997).
In track and field, Oppel was a three-time Mid-Southern Conference Coach of the Year while, in cross country, he earned the praise three times as girls’ coach and six times as boys’ coach.
Among other accomplishments, Oppel added the following IHSAA sports to North Harrison: boys’ and girls’ swimming, boys’ and girls’ soccer, boys’ and girls’ golf and softball.
In the community, Oppel attends Old Capitol United Methodist Church in Corydon and is president of the Hursttown Cemetery Association. At the school’s annual Relay for Life alumni game, Oppel coaches one of the teams. He also actively chairs and helps with the Ken Oppel Memorial Golf Scholarship, which provides a scholarship opportunity to a North Harrison boy and girl each year.
Crawford County’s Jerry Hanger was named the Middle School Athletic Director of the Year for District 5 by the IIAAA.