CHARLES “CHARLIE” GORDON – Coach

Coach
Charlie Gordon commanded respect and displayed respect throughout a 25-year coaching career that spanned four decades and provided Lincoln Southeast with its first state championship in any sport. Gordon was named the Knights’ baseball coach when the school opened in 1955. In 1958, with seven sophomores in the starting lineup, the Knights claimed their first of five state baseball championships. His Southeast teams also collected three runner-up finishes and 12 district championships. Also an assistant football coach, Gordon never took shortcuts when working with students and other coaches and was an example of what coaches hope sports can teach young people.

Bob Green – Omaha Creighton Prep

Bob Green

Omaha Creighton Prep

Athlete

Bob Green never lost a high school tennis match, posting a 67-0 record in three years at Creighton Prep, losing only three sets throughout his prep career.  As a sophomore, he defeated the previous years finalists to claim his first of three state championships at No. 1 singles.  The class valedictorian, Green went on to excel at Boston University where his tennis success paved the way for his induction into the Terriers Hall of Fame.  He was the teams MVP for three years and the schools first-ever qualifier for the NCAA Tournament.  He went on to a six-year career in professional tennis, where he was the ATP Rookie of the Year and rose to the No. 37 ranking  in the world in 1984 after losing in the U.S. Open quarterfinals to No. 1 ranked and eventual champion John McEnroe.

Buford “Boo” Grosscup – Lincoln

Official. Imagine an game official with the nickname of “Boo”.  So it’s gone on for years for Buford (Boo) Grosscup of Lincoln, who officiated football and basketball for 37 years from 1947-1983.  In football, he worked 444 games, which included five state championship games, numerous playoff games and the Shrine Bowl.  He assisted the Nebraska School Activities Association for 12 years giving rules meetings across the state as well as evaluating and instructing football crews.  In basketball, he worked an average of 50 games per year.  He assisted the NSAA for 18 years in this sport giving rules meetings as well as supervising state tournament officials.  “Boo” officiated the state basketball tournament for 15 consecutive years from 1958 to 1972 and was one of a very few officials to officiate state tournaments in three different decades — the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.  He was chosen by the state of Kansas to officiate their boys and girls all-star games. He even made it into films when he was selected as an official in the 1972 National Federation of High Schools football rules film that was produced in Longmont, Colo.  As president of the Eastern Nebraska Officials Association. in 1960, he led a program to assist young officials by convincing the Lincoln Public Schools and surrounding schools to allow him to assign referees for all contests below the varsity level.  Many officials starting in this program are still working today.  He still counsels officials and fields calls on rules interpretations.  He officiated almost 3,000 contests in his career.

BY RYLY JANE HAMBLETON / Lincoln Journal Star

Zebra. Blue.

Those are the nice things Buford Grosscup was called. Some things aren’t printable.

Grosscup officiated football and basketball and ran a baseball program. In 37 years, he officiated 444 football games, worked 1,850 basketball games. From 1954-67, he administered the Lincoln youth baseball program.

“My God, everyone owes kids something,” said Grosscup. “You do this because you love sports and kids.”

Grosscup is one of 22 people who will be inducted into the Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame this year.

Grosscup said other than a few rules changes, most of the differences in sports now compared to when he first started are off the field of play.

“On the court hasn’t changed much. There’s a rotten apple now and then in the stands,” he said. “And that’s more when a parent is involved as the kid’s alter-ego. You can write about sportsmanship, but it all depends on kids getting the proper direction and basic direction from their parents.”

Those changes are societal.

“There used to be three places kids learned behavior — from their parents, from institutions like churches and schools and on the street corner,” he said. “Families turned to institutions and now it’s gone to the third source.”

A teacher at Lincoln High, he was a friend and peer of Scott, who was a standout in athletics in every area — as an athlete, a coach and a contributor.

“I’ve gone back and looked at Links letters (Scott published the Lincoln High newsletter for 45 years, beginning in 1957). There was a lot of love there,” said Grosscup. “Harold didn’t need walls in his office because he had filing cabinets that served as walls. Everywhere I ever traveled around the country, people always asked about Harold because they knew him through the newsletters.”

Grosscup said that now that he is retired from officiating, his wife, Jane, often has to explain to fans when they show up at games.

“She always says, `My husband is just here to observe.’ I can’t stay away from sports just because I’m not officiating any more.”

 

Sandi Genrich – Lincoln Northeast

Coach. 

The 1985 Lincoln Journal-Star and 1999 Omaha World-Herald girls coach of the year retired after the 2003 season as the state career leader with 672 volleyball victories. She started her coaching career at Lincoln Pius X in 1972, then moved to Lincoln Northeast, her alma mater, in 1976. Her teams made 21 state tournament appearances, won state titles in 1981, 1984, 1991 and 1998 and were runners-up five times.  The Nebraska Coaches Association honored her as volleyball coach of the year in 1991 and in 2000 for outstanding contribution to volleyball in the state.

Ken Geddes – Boys Town

Athlete. 1965 grad

Ken Geddes was a member of the 1965 all-class and Class A all-state football teams. The 6-foot-2, 198-pound end also ran the third leg on Boys Town’s mile relay team that won the Class A and all-class gold medal at the state track meet. He started for the Boys Town basketball team that won the 1966 Class A basketball title and went on to play college football for the University of Nebraska from 1967 to 1970. He earned All-Big Eight honors as a linebacker in 1968 and as middle guard in 1969. He played in the Senior Bowl in 1969 and then in the Coaches All-American Game in 1970. The Detroit Lions selected Geddes in the seventh round of the 1970 NFL draft. He played eight years in the NFL for the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks.

Al Gaston – Grant and Ogallala

 Coach.  Al Gaston coached football and track for 30 years. He spent 20 years at Grant High School prior to finishing out his coaching career at Ogallala in 1995. He also coached at Farwell, Stockville and Haigler. His career football coaching record was 163-75-1. He was 129-23-1 at Grant, winning five state championships and nine conference championships. He was Grant’s track coach for eight years and an assistant for 22. Grant won state track championships in 1975 and 1976 and district championships in 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1980. Gaston was a Shrine Bowl head coach in 1978 and an assistant in 1976, and he was a head coach in the West Nebraska All-Star Football Game in 1980. In 1981 he was named the Omaha World-Herald Coach of the Year. In 1993 Gaston was honored by the NSAA for Outstanding Service for Football.

Johnny Goodman – Omaha South

Athlete. 1927 high school grad. He is the last amateur to win the U.S. Open, claiming that championship in 1933. He also won the U.S. Amateur in 1937 and was runner-up in two other amateur tournaments. In high school, he was the captain of the 1926 Omaha South golf team. He won the Omaha City Championship in 1927 and won the Nebraska Amateur championship from 1929-31. In 1929, he defeated Bobby Jones in the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach.     Deceased.

Bobby Ginn – Madison

Athlete. 1939 graduate.

The depression and the need for young men to help on the farm limited Bobby Ginn’s high school career. He didn’t compete until his junior year, then won back-to-back gold medals in the 880-yard dash at the state track meet. In 1938, he won the Class A race, then in 1939 he won the all-class gold medal while running in Class B. He was the first Nebraska high school athlete to break the two-minute mark in the 880. His state record time of 1:59.3 stood for 17 years. While running for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, he won the 1942 mile run at the NCAA Championships run in Lincoln. He was a four-year letterman in 1941, 1942, 1947. He was the Big Six outdoor mile run champion four times and indoor mile champion three times. He also won the 880 outdoors in 1942 and indoors in 1947. He earned All-American honors in 1941 and 1942. Deceased.

 

Dewaine Gahan – Oakland

Dewaine GahanContributor. Co-owner of the Oakland Independent and Lyons Mirror-Sun, Gahan has been of long-time supporter of high school athletics through newspaper coverage and columns as well as a pioneer in directing, developing and promoting all-star events for high school seniors. He won 12 national and 22 state awards for sports columns, many of which dealt with high school sports.

 

(Dewaine Gahan died in his home Jan 30, 2007)

Published Tuesday  |  May 1, 2007
Cancer fight can’t dim publisher’s optimism
BY PAUL HAMMEL OMAHA WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

OAKLAND, Neb. – For a newspaper publisher-columnist who’s as optimistic as a spring rain and who runs photos of smiling people on his front page every week, the news from a doctor was distinctly sobering.
You only have a few months to live, Dewaine Gahan was told in January. The melanoma, once a small mole on an ankle, has spread through your body.

Instead of retreating into a shell, Gahan is facing death as he’s faced many problems – in a public and positive way.

He has written columns about his bout with “the C-word,” crediting his strong religious convictions and family for strength, and finding a sunny side to a dark diagnosis.

“Some would say this has been a bad year for your publisher. A death sentence from cancer surely would qualify,” he wrote. “But, in many ways, 2007 has been the best year of my life.”

Even after deciding to end chemotherapy six weeks ago, Gahan was upbeat. He hadn’t given up, only chosen to live “on my terms” without the wicked side effects of treatment.

“It’s not the hurdles and strikeouts you face in life, it’s how you respond to them,” he said. “Positives can grow out of negatives if you keep your faith.”

Just how a 57-year-old man can face death with such optimism says it a lot about Gahan, an upbeat and energetic guy who returned to his hometown in 1980 for his dream job, publishing the Oakland Independent.

He’s poured his heart and soul into it – reviving the town’s Swedish Festival, raising funds for the Oakland Swedish Heritage Center and launching a regional basketball all-star game, the Swedish Classic.

He’s coordinated visits to Oakland of teachers from Afghanistan and other central Asian countries through the Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

He’s been a cheerleader for Oakland, a farm town of 1,400, located 60 miles north of Omaha, which he calls “a neat little paradise.”

Besides seeking uplifting stories about local residents, Gahan tries to publish photographs of all 200 elementary students in the Oakland-Craig school in his newspaper each year.

“We want to give everyone a shot in the sunshine,” said Gahan, who also publishes the Lyons Mirror-Sun.

One of nine kids, whose parents were morticians, and an avid athlete who still does 300 push-ups a day, Gahan began his journalism career began at age 12, when he worked up enough courage to knock on the Oakland publisher’s door and ask for a job.

He’s lived a lifelong dream of covering sports, first as sport editor at daily newspapers in Holdrege and Fremont, then as reporter and writer of three columns a week in the Independent and the Mirror-Sun.

His Oakland sports column is called the “Hot Corner,” so named because Gahan played third base, until age 36, on local semi-pro baseball teams.

Over the years, Gahan has won a dozen awards for sports column writing from the National Newspaper Association, and several dozen more in state journalism contests run by the Nebraska Press Association.

“He’s a passionate journalist,” said Allen Beermann, executive director of the Nebraska Press Association. “He writes from the heart, and he’s got a big heart.”

Gahan recently was named honorary co-president of the state newspaper association in an emotional ceremony led by Russ Pankonin of Imperial, a fellow publisher, good friend and this year’s NPA president.

“I hope Oakland realizes how great a community supporter they have,” Pankonin said.

In January, his hometown started a community hall of fame and made Gahan the first inductee. This spring, he was inducted into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame due to his tireless coverage of high school sports.

The state high school coaches’ and athletic directors’ groups named Gahan the “media person of the year.”

A die-hard Yankees fan, he took a first-time trip to spring training this year with his four brothers, Mike, Chris, Glen and Paul.

A past recipient of the Andy Award, given to a Midlands journalist who enhances international awareness, Gahan was surprised last week with the creation of the Dewaine and Bobbie Gahan Community International Leader Award by Tom Gouttierre, UNO’s dean of international studies.

Gouttierre said the annual award would reflect the devotion of Gahan and his wife of 35 years. The foreign students always cite the Oakland visit as a highlight because they see that America has its rural side, like their own countries, he said.

“Dewaine makes everyone feel like Oakland is the best place in the world, and the international students believe him,” Gouttierre said.

Sitting in a Main Street newspaper office wallpapered in old newspapers and bedecked with Yankee memorabilia, Gahan said he’s preparing for the worst but hoping for a miracle.

He’s been working only part time and plans to go on disability leave later this month. Both newspapers are for sale.

In the meantime, he’s finding a bright side, as always. His oldest son, Gregg, 26, a recently ordained minister, is coming home to run the paper in the interim. His youngest son, Joe, 21, who plays baseball at Highland (Kan.) Community College, will return to Oakland this summer to play semi-pro ball.

For Gahan, it means spending time with his sons, and his only grandchild, Gregg’s son, Elijah.

It’s another great chapter, he said, in what has been a great year, regardless of his sobering life expectancy.

“This is real life, man. It’s as hard as it gets,” Gahan said, “But it doesn’t have to drag you down. God’s smiled on me pretty well.”

Bob Gibson – Omaha Tech

HOF

Athlete–Considered one of the toughest major league baseball pitchers of all time, his athletic prowess was first noticed as a basketball player while at Omaha Technical High School, from which he graduated in 1953. For a time thereafter he followed the lure of basketball, playing for Creighton University in Omaha, then in the highly respected college all-star game,  and for a time on the road with the Harlem Globetrotters. But after joining the St. Louis baseball team Bob Gibson definitely got serious about the game of baseball, leading them as a great pitcher to three pennants and two World Series championships. His best year may have been 1968 when he had 22 wins against 9 losses and had a record-breaking ERA of 1.12 for that season. He had a 1.89 ERA in World Series play and holds the major league record for lowest ERA in a season (1968). He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981.

In 2005 and 2015, The Omaha World-Herald chose Gibson as the No. 1 athlete in the state’s history.