Rick Hesse-Clearwater/Valentine

Rick Hesse put Clearwater on the map. Called a “true mentor” who taught life lessons along with basketball, Hesse built a dynasty that became the first school to win four consecutive boys’ basketball state championships from 1984-87. After 22 years at Clearwater, Hesse moved on to Valentine where he wrapped up his career with 440 wins and 12 state tournament appearances. Noted for rewarding positive actions with a wink or a smile and not raising his voice while correcting his players, he also coached Clearwater’s volleyball team for 10 years, leading the Cardinals to its first state tournament appearance.








Title IX and Pat Hoblyn arrived at Ansley High School at the same time, and they had an immediate impact. In her first year as the school’s volleyball coach, she led the Warriors to a 19-0 record and a state championship. She continued to coach the team for more than 40 years. At the time of her induction, she had celebrated five state championships, one runner-up finish and had compiled 681 victories and a .748 winning percentage. Her teams won 25 Loup Valley Conference titles and a total of 37 tournaments. In addition to coaching volleyball, she was head basketball coach for two years and coached boys and girls track for 17 years, winning a total of 13 conference championships and two girls’ state runner-up trophies.




Few teams have ever enjoyed the dominance of Coach Brad Hildebrandt’s Skutt Catholic wrestling teams. During his tenure from 1993 to 2015, he led the SkyHawks to a total of 20 state wrestling championships – 17 team titles and three dual championships. The run included 13 straight Class B titles from 1998-2010. After a runner-up finish in 2011, the SkyHawks embarked on another string of state titles that carried on beyond his retirement. An Omaha firefighter whose passion was coaching wrestling, Hildebrandt strived to use wrestling to prepare for life. His teams produced 63 individual champions, six high school All-Americans, 101 state medalists and 154 state qualifiers.

Russ Hochstein – Hartington Cedar Catholic

Russ Hochstein

Hartington Cedar Catholic


Russ Hochstein turned an all-around athletic career at Hartington Cedar Catholic into a football career that culminated in three Super Bowl Rings.  A BlueChip Illustrated football All-American as a senior, Hochstein was a 12-time letterman at Cedar Catholic, earning all-state honors for three years in football and basketball and broke the schools 23-year -old shot put record in track.  He came close to logging more that 100 tackles three years running and averaged a double-double on the basketball court (15 points, 10 rebounds) as a senior.  An all-class, all-state offensive lineman as a senior, Hochstein signed to play for the Nebraska Cornhuskers where he was a first-team All-American and a two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection.  In his 12-year NFL career, he became the second player to win a Super Bowl ring in three consecutive years.

Barney Hill – Boys Town

Athlete.  A 1973 graduate of Boys Town High School, this sturdy, exciting athlete set the standards for high school track & field in an era when more multiple-races were permitted by high school authorities. Barney Hill became the first back-to-back Class A cross country champion in 1971 and 1972. Perhaps his cross country exploits showed what he could do if allowed to run more than one distance race in track. In 1973, he accomplished a very rare triple victory in the state track meet: winning gold medals in the 880-yard run, the mile run and the two mile run. He won the mile title two years in a row. The times recorded for Barney Hill are still very high on the all-time lists for both the half-mile and the mile.

Tom Haase – Aurora


Athlete. Tom Haase was the pillar of success for the Aurora Huskies in the 1986-87 school year. He was named the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star Athlete of the Year in 1987 after successful football, basketball and track seasons. In football, he quarterbacked Aurora to the state finals, including three straight wins over undefeated opponents. In basketball, he led the Huskies to the state championship. He qualified for the state track meet in 11 events in his high school career, winning nine medals. A Kansas Relays long jump champion, he posted what was then Nebraska’s second-best long jump with a 24-foot, 6 ½-inch effort at the state meet. He played quarterback for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, earning letters in 1990 and 1991.

Lloyd Hahn – Falls City

HOFAthlete. In the annals of Nebraska athletic history, this 1920 graduate of Falls City High School ranks very high, for at one time during the 1920s he was America’s finest middle distance runners and one of the best in the world. Starting his track career in high school, it is interesting that he starred in shorter events, the 100-yard dash, the 220-yard dash and the quarter mile. He set records all over the place in those events. Then after high school, he pursued self-improvement on his own, especially in longer races, the middle distances. Success came quickly. He was a member of the 1924 and the 1928 US Olympic Teams and at one time held world records at 800 meters, 880 yards, 1000 yards, 1,000 meters, 1,500 meters, the three-fourths mile and the indoor mile while running for the Boston Athletic Association. He eventually returned to farming outside of Falls City, and became a good friend and coach to the great Gil Dobbs, another great runner from Falls City.



Pat Hodges – Lexington

2009Athlete, Class of 1974. Pat Hodges had the magic touch. Named the 1974 high school athlete of the year by the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star, Hodges built his credentials in football, basketball and track. On the football field, Hodges played end on offense and defense for the state champion Minutemen of 1972 and 1973. On the basketball court, he twice earned All-Southwest Conference honors, establishing a conference scoring record with 1,183 points, and led Lexington to the Class B runner-up finish in 1974. He also set the state record by making 47 consecutive free throws. In track, he won four gold medals at the state meet, setting the state record in the 880-yard run (1:55.1). He also won the 440 and ran on Lexington’s winning 880 and mile relays while leading the Minutemen to the team championship.


Mel Harder – Omaha Tech

Athlete. A Nebraska native, born in Beemer, this noted baseball pitcher grew up in Omaha and attended Omaha Technical High School during the 1920s. He was a terror in baseball, basketball and football at Omaha Tech, but he always thought of himself as a baseball player. During  the late ’20s he signed with the Cleveland Indians and began making a name as a dependable pitcher. He won 223 games in the majors, including five 20-game seasons for the Indians. Of special interest is his great record in baseball’s All-Star games, pitching 13 perfect innings, no hits and no runs allowed. Beginning in 1955, young baseball players in the Omaha could play in the Mel Harder League, a fitting reminder of this fine athlete.

Nickname(s): Chief, Wimpy 1909-2002

All-Star in 1934-37
IP W-L ERA Career 3426 223-186 3.80       Wins-Losses Winning % Manager 0-1 .000

Only Bob Feller won more games for the Indians than Mel Harder, who spent 36 years with the club as a pitcher and coach. His 582 appearances and 186 losses set Cleveland records. Only Walter Johnson and Ted Lyons pitched more seasons with one club than Harder’s 20 with Cleveland. Harder pitched the first game ever in Cleveland Municipal Stadium, losing 1-0 to Philadelphia’s Lefty Grove on July 31, 1932.

Nearsighted, Harder wore thick glasses. Joe DiMaggio said that he gave him more trouble than just about any pitcher, wasting his fine curveball outside, then coming in tight with the fastball. Harder held DiMaggio to a .180 average against him lifetime, and struck him out three times in a 1940 game.

By today’s rules, Harder would have been the ERA leader in 1933, when he posted a 2.95 mark. But he was a .500 pitcher until 1934, when he went 20-12. He followed with a 22-11 season, but came down with bursitis in his shoulder and a sore elbow. He nevertheless won an average of 15 games a season from 1936 through 1940. He was released late in 1941, but was given another chance after having elbow surgery. Though he won 47 more games over the next six seasons, he did not regain his old form.

Harder is the only pitcher to work 10 or more All-Star innings without allowing an earned run. Though overshadowed by Carl Hubbell, he won the 1934 All-Star Game, finishing it with five shutout innings. Using today’s standards, he would have been awarded saves in the 1935 and 1937 contests.

Harder became one of the first coaches to be exclusively a pitching coach, and lasted through 12 Cleveland managers. Under Harder, seven different Indians won 20 games, for a total of 17 times. Two others led the AL in wins with fewer than 20. He was credited with changing Bob Lemon from a poor-hitting infielder to a Hall of Fame pitcher. He left Cleveland in 1964, going on to coach for the Mets, Cubs, Reds, and Royals through 1969.

Tom Hallstrom – Omaha

2010Contributor.  Tom Hallstrom’s passion for track and field didn’t go unnoticed. “If a Heisman Trophy was awarded for contributions to track and field, Tom Hallstrom would certainly be this year’s winner,” President Richard Nixon said while honoring Hallstrom in 1972. A physical education teacher and administrator in Omaha Public Schools for 40 years, he coordinated the physical education program for OPS from 1966 to his retirement in 1988. Hallstrom directed the state high school track meet from 1973 to 1979. He was a national chairman for the AAU’s Junior Olympics in Track and Field and organized the first major AAU meets in the state. A major factor in the implementation of boys and girls gymnastics in Nebraska high schools, he was a founder of the Nebraska Athletic Directors Association.