Lauded for building character and producing teams that played beyond their potential and rose to high levels of competition, John Faiman made his mark on countless athletes through a 48-year career that included 38 years as a head football coach at David City (4 years), McCook (2), Omaha South (6) and Bellevue West (26). His career also included 10 years as a college assistant coach at Washington State, Missouri, Utah and Kansas State. His Omaha South team claimed a Metro Conference title and he led Bellevue West to an undefeated (9-0) regular season. At Bellevue West, his teams qualified for the playoffs in nine of 10 years, and in 2011, at age 70, he was believed to be the oldest head coach to take a team to the playoffs. A high school All-American quarterback, he started for the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Coach Bob Devaney’s first game as head coach, but a broken leg in practice ended his playing career.
Because Gerald was one of the most recognized athletes of his era, people came to games just to watch him play. An “every-sport standout,” Gerald W. Ferguson led Scottsbluff High School to an undefeated season and the mythical state football title in 1945. All-State in football for two years and All Big Ten in basketball twice, he also won the Class A long jump and placed in the shot put at the state track meet. At Nebraska he was a three-year football letterman playing halfback. He coached high school sports at Fairbury and in California until retiring in 1988.
Coach/Athlete. This well-known member of the famous Nebraska Fischer family of athletes was a fine athlete himself, reaching all-state status as a halfback in 1942 in six-man football for St. Edward High School. Also a member of the Cornhusker teams of the 1940s, he played professional football for the New York Giants in 1949. As a high school coach he did well at Columbus St. Bonaventure, but reached the top when coaching the Omaha South High School Packers of 1958 to an undefeated season on the gridiron with one tie with the state co-champion. Most auspicious was his coaching at the college level, a 26-year coaching career on Nebraska’s staff, building the offensive line for the 1970-71 national championship teams.
Kelly Flynn built a girls basketball dynasty at South Sioux City, ruling Class B for more than a decade, winning 11 state championships – 10 in the 11 years from 1995 to 2005. The Cardinals finished second in 1999. Flynn coached at South Sioux City for 27 years, piling up 508 career wins and 17 state tournament appearances. The Cardinals were nationally ranked for eight years, earning a No. 1 ranking in USA Today in 2001. Flynn was named national Coach of the Year in 2012 and was a national Coach of the Year runner-up in 2003. He coached in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-American Game in 2003 in Atlanta and the McDonald’s All-American Game in 2005 in Indiana.
Athlete. Omaha Westside Class of 1957. The youngest sibling of Nebraska’s most famous athletic family, Pat Fischer was a great high school athlete, gaining football all-state honors in 1956. At Nebraska, his big plays sometimes were the highlights of the season, especially a punt return which beat Penn State, 7-6.
Fischer made his athletic mark in the National Football League, playing 17 years and starting a then record 212 straight games, playing cornerback for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1961 to 1967, and the Washington Redskins from 1968 to 1977.
Fischer joined the NFL as the 17th-round draft choice of St. Louis in the 1961 NFL Draft. He then signed with Washington as a free agent in 1968. He was a 1969 Pro Bowler. Fischer then helped lead the Redskins to Super Bowl VII in 1972. He finished his 17-year career with 56 interceptions, and ranked seventh all-time in Redskins career interceptions with 27 and fourth all-time with 412 career interception return yards. At the time of his retirement Pat Fischer had played in 213 NFL games, then a record for a cornerback. During his NFL career, Pat Fischer was well known to opposing teams as a vicious hitter and a tremendous competitor, despite the reputation as an affable person off the field.
In the late 1980’s, NFL Films named Fischer as the Redskins All-Time Netrulizer sponsored by Tums. After retiring from the Redskins, Fischer worked as a stockbroker and owned a successful real estate business.
Coach/Contributor--Much of the excellent reputation of the University of Nebraska at Kearney (formerly known as Kearney State) as a great track college is due to the efforts of this fine coach. Prior to his rendezvous with destiny at the county seat of Buffalo County, he coached at Clay Center High School and Ansley High School. Beginning in 1945, Coach Charlie Foster began building the athletic fortunes of Kearney State, at one time coaching football, basketball and track. Under his guidance Kearney had 16 track & field championship teams. He also hosted high school invitational and state championship track and cross country events at the Kearney facility. According to the University of Nebraska-Kearney Hall of Fame, Coach Foster was the “Father of Nebraska cross country”. He featured girls’ track events in meets before the sport was approved by the state and was the first to add the triple jump. The college’s football field bears his name, Foster Field.
Coach–A man who truly understands the art of coaching high school football, this talented coach was himself an all-state player (class of 1944) for St. Edward High School on their six-man football team. After completing college at NU, he went into coaching and had an early success coaching the Oakland High Vikings to a Class C state title and an undefeated season. Later, he had equal success in Class A, inspiring the Grand Island High School football team in a play-off victory and state championship in 1978. His high school coaching career included 214 wins, 69 losses and 9 ties; certainly putting Ken Fischer in the upper brackets of any discusses about great coaching. Also had outstanding officiating career, working the state basketball tournament for several years.
Coach. In 1967, the then new Lincoln East High School was fortunate to acquire for the faculty and its first basketball coach, one Paul Forch. Already a successful coach at McCook, his career produced a coaching record of 450-215. As an advocate of up-tempo offenses, he and Lincoln East basketball thrived for nearly three decades. East High Spartans qualified for the boys state tournament thirteen times, to the state finals six times, and in both 1971 and 1985 East High was the Nebraska boys state basketball champion. His impact on the basketball fortunes of Lincoln East and his influence in a faster-paced game shall be long remembered.
Athlete. For years, he was regarded the best athlete in the history of his high school, David City. This big bruiser excelled at everything he tried. He starred in the 1951 football state tournament when his David City teammates played the underdog role to a maximum and won the championship, by 60-55 over Wayne in the finals. At that time, the points scored by both teams in that game were the most in one game at the state tournament. Fyfe was chosen Class B basketball all-tournament in a three-game run that also included a two-overtime win in the semifinals. Doyle starred in track, too, reigning one year as state champion in the shot put. At Kearney State, his athlete prowess flourished and he chose to go into coaching, namely Hebron (state tournament runner-up 1956) and Pueblo, Colorado (state class AAA runner-up three consecutive years). He returned to UNK for 26 years. He was the first athlete selected for the UNK Hall of Fame.
Athlete. Mike Fultz, the 1973 Lincoln Journal Star Athlete of the Year, received eight letters in football, basketball and track at Lincoln High. In football, he played defensive tackle, running back and linebacker, earning all-class all-state honors in 1972 and playing in the Shrine Bowl in 1973. He won the 1973 gold medal in the shot put at the state meet with a throw of 58 feet, 8 ¼ inches. Fultz went on to earn three letters for the Nebraska Cornhusker football team. He received All-Big Eight honors in 1974 and 1975 and All-American honors in 1976. He played in the Senior Bowl in 1976 as a defensive tackle. The New Orleans Saints drafted Fultz in the second round of the 1977 NFL draft. He played for the Saints from 1977 to 1980, then with the Baltimore Colts in 1981. Fultz has also been inducted into the Lincoln High Athletic Hall of Fame and the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame.