New Madison boys basketball head coach Mark McFarland (above right) is pictured coaching Jaylen Gilbert at Rensselaer High School last season. McFarland was named head coach at Madison on Tuesday. (Rensselaer Republican photo)
New Madison boys basketball head coach Mark McFarland (above right) is pictured coaching Jaylen Gilbert at Rensselaer High School last season. McFarland was named head coach at Madison on Tuesday. (Rensselaer Republican photo)
Madison Consolidated High School filled its two biggest athletic vacancies with the hiring of Joe Bronkella as athletic director and Mark McFarland as head boys basketball coach on Tuesday.

Both positions have been open since the resignation of Cliff Hawkins in mid-June. Hawkins, who spent three seasons as the boys basketball coach and the last two as athletic director, quit to take the head boy coaching position at North Miami.

The job search for both positions had been stalled as Madison sought a replacement for principal Kevin Yancey, who was reassigned after the school year. After hiring Michael Gasaway for that position last week, the search for AD and coach moved quickly.

McFarland comes to Madison after a three-year stint at Class 3A Rensselaer Central High School where his teams were 39-33, including a pair of 15-9 seasons in 2015 and 2017. Overall, McFarland is 67-69 in six head coaching seasons, the first three at Mississinewa, also a 3A school.

McFarland played his high school basketball at Franklin Central where the Flashes won the Conference Indiana Championship, a sectional championship, and a Marion County Championship. He returned there after college to serve as a varsity assistant in 2006-07 and as the seventh grade head coach and varsity assistant in 2007-08.

His first full-time teaching position was at Pike High School in Indianapolis where he served as freshman and varsity assistant basketball coach. After one season he moved on New Castle High School where he was the junior varsity head coach and a varsity assistant for two years prior to being hired by Mississinewa.

“As a coach and teacher, it is my philosophy to win on the basketball floor and in the classroom by teaching students the importance of life-long learning and how to be a positive role model and contributor to our society,” McFarland said in his application letter. “I do this by allowing the students to see these characteristics in myself everyday.”

Those qualities were what stood out to the search committee, according to Gasaway.

“We received 15 applications for the position of head basketball coach. We had some high quality applicants and after reviewing our expectations and their qualifications, we narrowed the field to six who we felt best fit what we are looking for in our program,” Gasaway said. “Those individuals were then interviewed by a committee made up of administrators. We also talked with a few coaches at the high school and college levels for input.”

The Madison job will be McFarland’s third in the past seven years. He will also be Madison’s third head boys basketball coach in the past five years and the fifth coach in the past 10 seasons.

Madison has won 38 sectional titles in its history, but hasn’t cut down the nets since 2007, its longest span without a sectional title since an 11-year stretch from 1972 to 1983.

McFarland plans on changing that. After building successful youth feeder programs at both Mississinewa and Rensselaer Central, he plans on doing the same at Madison.

“I look forward to working together with coaches and as a community to create a great experience for athletes of all ages,” McFarland said. “I believe that building a great program must be established from the ground up. In doing this, it also enables the community to gain interest and support for the program moving forward.”

McFarland and his wife Chelsea have two children, Kayden and Milena. He graduated from Ball State University with a bachelor of science degree in business administration and received his master of science education from Walden University. He will join the staff at Madison Junior High School as a computer science teacher and as a teacher within the Independent Learning Academy at MCHS.

“This hire comes as a win-win for the high school and middle school,” said Madison Junior High Principal Jill Mires. “We look forward to having Mr. McFarland in our building and a part of the Madison family.”

Bronkella comes to Madison from Columbus where he served as athletic director and physical education teacher at Central Middle School. A graduate of both Highland High School and Anderson University, Bronkella holds a bachelor of arts in education in physical education with a health minor and received a master’s of education from Indiana Wesleyan.

“Joe brings a vast amount of teaching experience in the areas of special education, math, physical education and health at the middle and high school levels,” Gasaway said in a release.

A native of Anderson, Bronkella taught in the area after graduation, serving as AD at Anderson South Side Middle School. After a short coaching stint in Florida, Bronkella returned to Indiana in 2005 and joined the Bartholomew Consolidated School District in Columbus. He has served as the AD at Central Middle School since 2011 as well as freshman football coach.

“I am very excited to get started. I have always heard what a great family the community of Madison is and we are anxious to be a part of that,” said Bronkella, whose wife Collette and daughters Grace and Libby will begin their search to relocate to Madison in the near future.

Madison received 17 applications for the AD position but Gasaway said that Bronkella stood out from the pack.

“Joe demonstrated all of the characteristics and qualities our committee was looking for to lead our athletic department,” Gasaway said. “Joe will do a great job of being accessible, organized and innovative with our athletic programs and department. We are very excited to have Joe joining our Madison family and look forward to the direction he will lead us.”