After two years as an assistant boys basketball coach at Elm Creek, Randy Carpenter started the girls basketball program at Lexington in 1974, creating an after-school program that would feed his varsity. The early success of his teams helped steer Nebraska into the modern era of girls basketball. Throughout his career, the passionate and colorful Carpenter earned a reputation for producing teams that played solid player-to-player defense and were well-prepared. In a coaching tenure that lasted 37 years, he led the Minutemaids to state championships in 1978 and 1987, two runner-up trophies in 1977 and 1991, 13 district championships and 12 Southwest Conference titles. He retired in 2011 with a 492-276 record. His last team set a school record with 23 victories.
Athlete. Class of 1944. For two hours, Don “Moose” Cooper was the best pole vaulter in the history of college athletics. On April 21, 1951, Cooper cleared 15 feet, 1/8 inch at the Kansas Relays – the first collegian and fourth person ever to clear 15 feet. Later that day, Don Lax of Illinois went 15-1 ¾ in a meet at Los Angeles. Cooper had been an outstanding pole vaulter throughout his career, using bamboo and steel poles and landing in dirt and sawdust pits. He was a two-time Nebraska high school all-class gold medalist, a three-time winner at the Drake Relays. At York High School, he also lettered in football and basketball and was the starting guard on York’s state championship basketball team of 1944. He was named to the all-state tournament and all-state teams of 1944.
Athlete. A champion gymnast who worked and worked to earn his way to a key position on the 1980 US Olympic Team, Phil Cahoy began his sports career even before entering Omaha South High School from which he graduated in 1978. He’s a product of the Sokul gymnastics program in Omaha where he began almost at a toddler age. During a three-year period at Omaha South High, 1976-77-78, South was gymnastics state champion each year. He was first or second in most state events he tried. In 1978 he was state champion in six events. Later, at the University of Nebraska he won four NCAA national championships. Injuries hampered his Olympic participation.
2001 Inductee into USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Cahoy is a ten-time NCAA All-American, nine-year member of the U.S. Senior National Team and a four-time World Championships team member. He was also a member of the 1986 Goodwill Games team and was chosen to represent the U.S. at the 1980 Olympic Games. He was also a four-time NCAA event champion.
After his competitive gymnastics career, Cahoy went to medical school at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. He received his M.D. in 1990 and completed his internship/residency in the Division of Orthopedics at the University of Wisconsin Department of Surgery. Cahoy is a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon at Grand Island Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Grand Island, Nebraska.
Bill Conner arrived at ScottsbluffHigh School in 1947 and became a fixture in the Bearcats’ athletic program as a coach then the atheltics director for the next 34 years. A 10-year stint in football highlighted his coaching career. After an 0-10 inaugural campaign, Conner turned Scottsbluff around, winning 58 games the next nine years, including a 21-game winning streak and four outright West Big 10 titles and one co-championship. As an assistant track, he coached several state champion jumpers and vaulters. He became the athletics director in 1964, overseeing the start of girls athletics and swimming, tennis and golf programs. In the 1967-68 school year, Scottsbluff enjoyed its best year in athletics, winning won four state championships
Coach. As one of the great high school basketball coaches in the state, Larry Coorts found a home in Adams to start his career and Adams found themselves a coach in Coorts. In a 35-year career this talented gentleman’s teams had 540 wins and only 237 losses while head coach at Adams High School & Freeman when Adams merged with Filley. A good measure of his skill was a winning record in the state boys basketball tournament in Lincoln, winning championships four times with the red and black-clad Hornets: 1968, 1972, 1977 and 1993. He received a variety of coach of the year awards, and in 1993 he was also named Nebraska High School Athletic Director of the Year.
Athlete. Millard North (1997)
The 2001 Heisman Trophy winner, Eric Crouch was a four-year starter at quarterback for Nebraska where he finished his career as the third-leading rusher and third-leading passer of all time. At Millard North he rewrote the Class A football record book as one of the top prep quarterbacks in state history. A 1996 Parade All-American, he was named the state’s offensive player of the year by both major newspapers. He set records with 50 touchdowns, 308 points 5,134 yards of total offense over a three-year career. In track, he was the Metro Conference champion in the 100 and 200 meters as a senior and the 200 as a junior.
Coach. In 1947, Coach Conn returned to his alma mater, Chadron State, to take over the coaching reins in its prep school, then turned that move into perhaps the most successful coaching stint in history. He was probably most known for his success in basketball where the Junior Eagles compiled a record of 247-33 with three undefeated state championship teams. During one stretch in the early 1950’s, their win streak was 42 games in a row and later in the decade they won 37 in a row. In a day when one coach did it all, he had a highly successful football program with a record of 28-8-2 and a win streak of 21 and two undefeated seasons. After the college closed the high school, he remained on the college faculty and later served at the University of South Dakota-Springfield. He was presented Chadron State College’s Distinguished Service Award in 1976..
Athlete, Class of 1997
Kelly Cizek was a game changer. The Female Athlete of the Year in 1997, Cizek combined size, speed, grace and intelligence to dominate in volleyball, basketball and track. Ranked No. 4 nationally in the high jump (5- foot-10) by Track and Field News, listed in the “Fab 50” by Volleyball Magazine and voted to the top 100 basketball team, she graduated with Millard South records in all three sports, After her freshman year at Ralston, she transferred to Millard South, which won the state basketball championship her junior year and reached the semifinals in her sophomore and senior seasons. She was a three-time Class A high jump champion and the 1997 gold medalist in the 100-meter high hurdles. She accepted a full-ride scholarship to play volleyball and run track at Iowa State but switched to basketball after her freshman year.
Athlete. 1974. Made his mark early at Omaha Burke High School, cracking the starting lineup in 1971 and keeping his spot three years. All-Metro. All-State, 1974 Shrine Bowl. He was also on the varsity basketball team three years, starting as a junior and a senior. In track, he threw the shot and discus and qualified for the state meet as a senior. At University of Nebraska, he played football: back-up center and special teams as a soph, Blackshirt defensive tackle as a junior, offensive guard and outstanding senior lineman in 1978, selected for the East-West all-star game and the Challenge Bowl. Third round NFL draft pick in 1979 by Cincinnati. Traded to St. Louis after one year. Retired after four NFL years because of five knee surgeries. In 1987, Coach Tom Osborne invited him into the NU program as a graduate assistant. Became head coach at Hastings College in 1995, winning the conference championship his first year. Assistant head coach at New Mexico State in 1997. Head coach at Iowa State. Mainstay on Nebraska coaching staff for several years.
In the early stages of girls athletics in Nebraska, Donna Chvatal Schuetz was among the pioneers who quickly raised the level of play. Schuetz was a four-year starter in volleyball and basketball and a standout in track at North Bend Central. She excelled in basketball, where her coach described her as a highly-skilled, motivated, unselfish athlete who demonstrated sportsmanship on and off the court. From her jump shot to rebounding to defense, she was a complete player. Her varsity teams compiled a 58-4 record with three conference and three district championships. She scored 1,056 points, handed out 256 assists, made 301 steals and shot 51 percent. Her high school volleyball teams won 45 matches and lost 12 while winning three conference titles. She also was a three-time qualifier to the state track meet. She went on to play basketball at Creighton, but injuries plagued her and as a result, curtailed her college career.