Omaha Central (Class of 1987)
One of a string of standouts who gave Omaha Central the nickname, “I-Back High,” Flowers earned Parade All-American honors and was one of eight finalists for Gatorade National Player of the Year as a senior. A two-time all-state running back, he rushed for 1,800 yards as a junior and 1,200 yards and 19 touchdowns in seven games his senior year. His six touchdowns in a game set a Class A record. Also a member of Central’s gold-medal-winning 400-meter relay, Flowers used his athletic skills to rush for more than 1,600 yards in his 3-year career at Nebraska, putting together a string of six 100-yard games in 1990.
Contributor. His 36 years as a sportswriter and sports editor at the Norfolk Daily News from 1961-1997 touched the lives of a couple of generations of high school athletes, their coaches and their fans. His coverage of all sports, particularly during the transition period of girls in sports, included ratings, rankings, charts, headlines, special sections for small schools as well as the larger ones in the coverage area. His well-chosen words touched all sports as the following honors show: NSAA Distinguished Service Award, Coaches Association Friend of High School Sports, Nebraska Baseball Hall of Fame, Northeast Nebraska track and field achievement award, American Legion Post 16 baseball award, Norfolk Coaches Association Outstanding Service Award, Golden Gloves Boxing Outstanding Journalism Award and the Associated Press Sportswriter of the Year award. High School: Sioux Falls (SD) Washington. College: University of South Dakota, Augustana College.
Athlete. Class of 1994. Sarah (Fredstrom) Secrest hit a home run in high school athletics. A four-time state champion in doubles in tennis and an all-state basketball player, the 1994 Omaha World-Herald Female Athlete of the Year was a big hit in softball. Even though it was not a sanctioned sport until her senior year, Fredstrom had established herself as a standout at the club level. As a senior, she hit seven home runs, seven triples and seven doubles while batting .592. She was named the honorary captain of the all-state team. At Colorado State University, she set almost every hitting record as a four-year starter at shortstop. The Western Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year in 1994 and an All-American in 1997, she was an all-conference selection three times and finished her career batting .367 with 32 home runs, 15 triples, 51 doubles and 183 RBIs.
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.