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.

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.

Ahman Green – Omaha Central

2010Athlete. Class of 1995. Mixing speed and power, Ahman Green left a multitude of tacklers in his wake during a stellar career at running back in high school, college and the NFL. He started his high school career at Omaha North, enjoying a 1,000-yard season before becoming an all-stater at Omaha Central playing running back, linebacker and punter. He earned all-state running back honors in 1993 and 1994 and won the 100 and 200 meters at the 1995 state track meet. He rushed for nearly 4,000  yards at Nebraska and more than 9,000 yards in the NFL, mostly at Green Bay, where he became the Packers’ all-time rushing leader. The Big 8 Freshman of the Year, he rushed for 1,086 yards and 13 touchdowns as Nebraska won the 1995 national championship. A four-time Pro Bowl selection, Green finished his NFL career with more than 11,000 yards.

 

 

Bob Gratopp – Geneva

Athlete. When experts debate all-time great high school basketball shooters, the name of this 1966 graduate from Geneva High School is sure to be included. Having scored an amazing high school total of 1,916 points, his achievements include leading the purple and gold Wildcats to the 1965 state championship in Class B basketball; with their first game in the state tournament that year being one in which Bob Gratopp scored a record 50 points. He was, of course, named all-state in basketball (twice), but he also was all-state in football and he played in the Shrine Bowl football all-star game. His outstanding career at the University of Nebraska prompted his selection to the UNL Basketball Hall of Fame.

Officiated high school and college basketball for years.

Herb Grote – Omaha Benson

2010Athlete. Class of 1938. Considered one of the most versatile high school athletes in the state, Herb Grote was named to the Omaha World-Herald Honor Roll teams in football, basketball and track and was named to the Nebraska All-Legion baseball team. But he had no peer when throwing the javelin, a skill he acquired while throwing sunflower stalks in the back yard.. He won the state high school gold medal in 1937 and 1938, setting the state record as a junior. At the University of Nebraska, he won the Big Six javelin championships in 1940, 1941, 1946 and 1947. An All-American in 1940 and 1946, he won the “triple crown” in 1947 by winning the javelin at the Texas Relays, Kansas Relays and Drake Relays. While in the infantry in World War II, he rose from private to captain and was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.