Coach. Father Pat’s track and field expertise and enthusiasm brought outstanding success in the sport to Hastings St. Cecilia (1968-77), where his girls teams won five state and district championships, and Wahoo Neumann (1978-98) where his teams won three state championships in girls cross country, two state titles in boys cross country and two state championships in girls track. A native of Ireland, he once was the Irish national champion in the 440 and since coming to Nebraska, has served as a Catholic priest in Hastings, Colon/Cedar Bluffs and Plattsmouth. His track interests brought national acclaim, as he was USA team manager for several international meets, including the World Championships, Friendship Games in Moscow and the Russia/United States duals. He’s spent a lifetime serving youth track and field in the state and nationally. Ordained in Dublin, Ireland. Degree: Kearney State.
Coach. The only volleyball coach in Lincoln East’s 33 years (2006), Coach O won six state championships (74-77-82-85-86-88), three Class A state runners-up (89-93-94) and made 19 state tournament appearances. He coached more victories in volleyball than any other coach with a 726-367 record. Also head coach of a successful track program from 1973 to 1995. The Lincoln Journal Star Coach of the Year in 1983, Oehlerking was twice named the regional finalist for National Coaches Association Coach of the Year and a Lincoln Ralph Beechner Coach of the Year winner. Coached at Adams for five years and at Lefler Junior High in Lincoln for four years prior to joining the East staff. He is a 1953 graduate of Murdock High School. High school: Murdock. Degrees: Westmar, Nebraska.
BY RON POWELL / Lincoln Journal Star — Wednesday, Nov 19, 2008 – 08:37:00 pm CST
When Myron Oehlerking began coaching volleyball at Lincoln East, Richard Nixon was president, Bob Devaney coached the Nebraska football team, the Vietnam War was still going on and a single computer, complete with punch cards, took up an entire room.
Oehlerking’s storied career has outlasted six presidents, disco, bell-bottom pants, platform shoes, mullets, eight-track tapes, VCRs and dial-up Internet. But after 37 successful seasons as the only volleyball coach in school history, the Nebraska High School Hall of Famer has decided to retire.
The 75-year-old Oehlerking announced he was resigning at the East postseason volleyball banquet Tuesday night. He leaves as the winningest coach in Nebraska high school volleyball history with 793 career wins, including a 25-11 mark this season when he guided the seventh-ranked Spartans to their fourth Class A state tournament appearance in the past five years and their 22nd overall.
In recent years, Oehlerking has had both knees replaced, bypass surgery and a heart valve replaced. As a result, “it’s gotten to the point where it’s become physically difficult to coach,” said Oehlerking, who’s had Mike Wiese as an assistant head coach the past two seasons. “I thought this was a good time to step aside. You don’t want to, but it was something I had to do.”
East athletic director Wendy Henrichs described it “as a tough decision” for Oehlerking to make. “Myron can walk away with a lot of pride and satisfaction about what he’s done with East volleyball,” she said. “His passion not only for volleyball but for kids in general will be missed. I’ve been honored and privileged to be able to work with him.”
Oehlerking has coached volleyball in six different decades. His career began in Adams in 1958, before the Nebraska School Activities Association sanctioned the sport. He not only coached volleyball in his five years there, he also was the football, boys basketball and baseball coach. He was the head girls track coach for 23 years at East, stepping down from that position in 1995 when he also retired as a physical education teacher.
Oehlerking came to Lincoln in 1963 and coached numerous ninth-grade boys sports for nine years. The NSAA added volleyball in 1972, the same year East started its program and handed it over to Oehlerking. The Spartans won their first state title two years later, then added five more in 1977, ’82, ’85, ’86 and ’88. Oehlerking’s best team, however, was one that didn’t win state – the 1994 squad which made an national impact.
The Spartans won the Nike Challenge in Chicago that season and moved to No. 1 in the USA Today national ratings the week leading into the state tournament. Bellevue West, however, upset East in the state finals, leaving the Spartans with a 38-1 record. All six starters on that team, including former Nebraska outside hitter Jaime Krondak, received Division I college volleyball scholarships.
“Myron is one of the main reasons why volleyball is played at such a high level in Nebraska,” said Papillion-La Vista coach JJ Toczek, whose team won its second straight Class A title last weekend. Toczek was an assistant at both Lincoln Northeast and Lincoln Southeast before going to Papillion-La Vista six years ago.
“He’s an icon who will go down as one of the greatest coaches of all-time here,” Toczek added. “I’ve always admired how even-keeled he is and how he connects with kids.”
In a sport that rapidly changes, Oehlerking always stayed ahead of the game in terms of fundamentals and strategy. His Spartans were among the first high school teams in the state to install a fast offense with quick sets in the middle and slide plays to the outside. He was teaching jump serves and finger-tip passes on serve receive long before those skills became fashionable.
But his coaching effectiveness went beyond the physical fundamentals. “I think he embodies the values you want to see in high school athletics,” said Creighton head volleyball coach Kirsten Bernthal-Booth, an all-state setter under Oehlerking in the early 1990s. “Mr. O not only teaches you the sport, he also teaches you life lessons. I felt fortunate to play for him. “I hope my coaching style emulates his because he’s about not only developing athletic talent, but also character.”
Oehlerking not only coached current Husker Rachel Schwartz and former Huskers such as Krondak, Nancy Grant, Nikki Stricker and Kim Tonniges, he also coached the coaches’ kids. Suzie Osborne, the daughter of former NU football coaching legend Tom Osborne, played at East in the late 1980s. Katherine Pettit, the daughter of ex-Husker volleyball coach Terry Pettit, was a two-time Super-State setter in the 1990s.
The competitive side of Oehlerking was often masked by his steady, calm coaching style. Seeing individual players and the team as a whole performing at their potential was more important to him than wins or losses.
Oehlerking was also all about growing the game. He openly shared his coaching philosophy and strategies to any young coach willing to listen, as Pius X coach Jake Moore learned 20 years ago when he was at Fairmont. “He and Marilyn (Oehlerking’s wife) came down for a camp with Fairmont and McCool Junction, and they were great with the kids,” Moore said. “He talked about all the offenses and defenses they ran, and all of that stuff was new to me at the time.”
Moore came to Lincoln for graduate school after his stint at Fairmont with the intent of leaving the teaching/coaching profession. Oehlerking sought him out to coach one of his Sports Courts club teams during the winter of 1989-90, which then inspired Moore to apply for the vacant Lincoln Pius X job entering the ’90 season. Moore’s Thunderbolts won their third straight Class B state title last weekend and the sixth overall under his 19-year guidance. “If Myron doesn’t call me to coach his club team, I don’t know if I’d be coaching at Pius X right now,” Moore said. “My first few years here, he was my pipeline for coaching information.
“It’s amazing how he’s touched probably thousands of lives through volleyball,” the Pius X coach added. “His legacy is unbelievable.”
By the numbers
37 volleyball seasons at Lincoln East (1972-2008)
793-399 career record
Six Class A state championships
Three state runner-ups
22 state tournaments
1983 Journal Star Coach of the Year
2006 Nebraska High School Hall of Fame inductee
Coach. When George O’Boyle started coaching at Lincoln Pius X, he started a cross country program that became a dynasty. Under O’Boyle, the Thunderbolts won 10 boys state cross country championships and seven girls state track championships. The teams also earned five runner-up trophies. Born in Bronx, N.Y., O’Boyle came to the University of Nebraska on a track scholarship. He taught one year in Battle Creek, Mich., and one year at Hastings St. Cecilia before coming to Lincoln. A coach who was always open to new techniques and ideas to keep the sport fun, he was a volunteer coach in 1968 before getting a full-time coaching-and teaching job at Pius X, where he coached for 40 years. He also was a successful track and field coach, guiding Pius X girls to the state title in 1982 and the boys to the state championship in 1984. The Thunderbolts also claimed three runner-up trophies. He was the National Cross Country Coach of the Year 2000.
Athlete. Class of 1965. In whatever sport he tried, Rich Osentowski succeeded. He was a three-year starter at quarterback on the Ord football team earning all-state honorable mention. He started at guard on Ord’s state tournament qualifying basketball team, earning all-state and all-state tournament honors. He won the Class B golf championship, leading Ord to the team title in that sport. He also joined the track team for one year. Baseball is where Osentowski advanced the farthest, playing in the Minnesota Twins organization after a record-setting career at Kearney State College. The quarterback on Kearney State’s undefeated football team of 1967, he also led the Lopers to the NAIA National baseball tournament, setting single-season records with a .475 batting average and nine triples.
The first two chapters of Rich Olson’s coaching career in girls basketball included state championships at Millard South and Lincoln Northeast. In a 21-year stint at Millard South, he led his team to 15 state tournaments, including the championships in 1989, 1992 and 1996, as well as runner-up finishes in 1988 and 1993. He moved to Lincoln Northeast for the 2004-05 season and led the Rockets to an undefeated state championship. The Rockets were state runner-up the next year and qualified for the state touranment the following year. The loss in the state final in 2006 snapped a 48-game winning streak. At the time of his induction, he had ended his brief retirement, agreeing to take over the girls basketball program at Lincoln Lutheran, bringing to the post a 427-182 record.
A champion coach in three sports, Scotty Orcutt was the dean of Omaha baseball coaches before a fall led to his death in 1972. His baseball teams won three league tournament titles and won or shared five regular-season crowns, along with a state runner-up finish in 1966, as the Bunnies were 188-99-3 during his 28 years. While coaching American Legion baseball, he led his teams to state titles in 1959, 1962 and 1969. Orcutt’s coaching career began at Farnam High School in 1937. He moved to Underwood High School in Omaha in 1939, then to Omaha Benson in 1942. His basketball record was 179-153 over 19 seasons, with state finals appearances in 1951 and 1954 and a No. 1 final ranking from the Omaha World-Herald in 1961. He also coached Benson to the 1943 boys gymnastics state title.
Athlete–For many years, members of the Extra-Point Club in Lincoln would hear these magic words from the master of ceremonies: “And now, ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce the winningest coach in the nation!“ Of course, the MC meant the legendary Tom Osborne, whose high school athletic exploits for Hastings High School (1955 graduate) highlight his Hall of Fame honor. Tom was a member of the very tall boys basketball team from Hastings which captured the Class A state title in 1954. He was an all-state back his senior year in high school as well as being all-state in basketball. What many may not know is the unusual combination of speed and strength he had, shown by his finishing 2nd in the Class A 440 yard dash and won the discus field event that spring. He was a bowl-winning quarterback for Hastings College and after playing professional football, became a football coach of the University of Nebraska, and the head coach in 1973.
While working on advanced degrees at Nebraska, he joined the football staff as a student volunteer. This soon broadened to full-time assistant under Bob Devaney and ultimately succeeding him as head coach.
Nebraska head coach from 1973-97; career record of 255-49-3; his win pct. of .836 is fifth all-time; won national championships in 1994 and ’95 and shared national title with Michigan in ’97. ;
–Won back-to-back national championships in 1994 and ’95 as head coach; was an assistant on Nebraska’s other two national champions (’70, ’71).
–His teams were ranked No. 1 for all or part of the past five seasons and were ranked by The Associated Press every week since 1981 — a record 257 consecutive weeks.
–Nebraska’s 47 victories during the four seasons before 1997 are the most ever by any school in such a time span.
–Won nine or more games in each of his 25 years and 11 or more for the last five years.
–A seven-time Big Eight Coach of the Year selection (1975, ’76, ’80, ’88, ’92, ’93, ’94).
–Winningest active coach in NCAA (.828) upon retirement.
–Won 13 conference titles; only Oklahoma legend Bud Wilkinson won more (14).
–Winningest coach in Big Eight history (231); coached more games (293) than anybody in school history. He and Bob Devaney are the only coaches to win more than 100 games each at Nebraska.
–Left with a 42-game home winning streak.
–Teams played in a bowl game in each of his 25 seasons; third all-time behind former Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and Penn State coach Joe Paterno at the time of his retirement.
In 2000, he was elected to the United State House of Representatives.
Athlete. On the cutting edge of resurgence for girls athletics in Nebraska high schools, Sondra (Obermeier) Herold became the very first girl’s high school athlete of the year selection in modern times. Her accomplishments in track & field during the year 1976 are particularly impressive. She leaped 19 feet five inches in the long jump, a record for over two decades. Three times she was the Class B state champion in the long jump, and overall gold medal champion twice in the long jump and once in the high jump. In 1976 she won four events in the Class B girls state track meet: 100 yard dash, 220 yard dash, the high jump and the long jump. In addition, she was an all-state volleyball player while in high school. Her presence was known from early on in high school.
Athlete. Prep baseball pitching record of 27-0 with a 0.76 ERA and 276 strikeouts, and won four state championships during prep career at Northwest. Tossed four no-hitters in baseball career, including three in state tournament. Also a football standout. Attended Auburn University, where he was a two-time All-American. Established school records with 271 strikeouts, 20 saves and 97 appearances. Averaged 14.1 strikeouts per nine innings. Selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the first round (fourth pick overall) in 1988 draft. Big-time career as a major league relief pitcher, most notably for Baltimore and, in 1999, the American playoff qualifying Arizona Diamondbacks. His father, Coach Bill Olson, also was a Hall of Fame inductee in 1999.
The careers of Bill and Gregg Olson were intertwined during the early 1980’s at Omaha Northwest High School where Bill was the school’s first baseball coach, and Gregg played on four consecutive state championship teams from 1982 through 1985. Under Bill’s leadership the Huskies compiled a fifty-three game consecutive win streak over the 1983, 84 and 85 seasons. The streak started during Gregg’s sophomore season in 1983; in 1984 the team recorded a perfect season, and the streak finally came to an end in 1985. “What’s funny about that streak,” observed Coach Olson in his trademark gravel pit voice, “is that it started after we lost a game to Ralston on a very close play, a questionable call. If we win that game, we can tack on about another fifteen straight wins that we had before that loss.”
During his high school career, Greg was a perfect 27-0 on the mound, featuring a crisp fast ball in the high 80’s and low 90’s and a knee-buckling breaking ball known as “Uncle Charlie.” Greg was also a very good hitter, hitting over .500 as a senior and leading the state in home runs. During the state tournament his senior year, he was 18 of 21 at the plate. He also threw a no-hitter in the championship game.
A “Faces in the Crowd” entry in the July 16, 1984 issue of Sports Illustrated notes the following: “Bill, 44, coached son Gregg, 17, and the Northwest High baseball team to their third straight state Class A championship. In the 4-2 title victory over Millard South, Gregg, a righthander, struck out 10, hit two homers and drove in the four Husky runs. As a pitcher, he was 8-0 for the season with a 0.98 ERA. Bill’s 13-year 184-64 record includes a 40-game win streak dating back to the 1983 season. He now has been named Nebraska’s high school baseball Coach of the Year five times.”
Gregg was selected a High School All American by American Legion baseball in 1985 as the Northwest Legion team finished third in the American Legion World Series. The Northwest spring team was awarded a mythical National Championship in 1983 by Collegiate Baseball magazine and earned a #2 final ranking in 1984 and a #3 final ranking in 1985 from the publication.
Gregg played college baseball at the Auburn University where the 6’4″, 206 pound right-hander was the school’s first and only two-time All-American. During his three-year career at Auburn, Gregg compiled a 25-7 record with twenty saves, a 3.03 ERA and 271 strikeouts. He was selected to the USA National Team in 1987.
Gregg was selected by the Baltimore Orioles with the #4 pick in the first round of the 1988 major league draft and made his major league debut later that season. Used primarily as a reliever, Olson was named the American League Rookie of the Year in 1989, his first full season in the majors. In his second season (1990), Gregg was selected to the American League All-Star team and set a club record of 37 saves. He followed with 31 saves in 1991 and 36 in 1992.
A torn elbow ligament in August 1993 sidelined him for the rest of that year. Although he finished with 29 saves and a career low 1.60 ERA that season, Baltimore opted not re-sign him after the injury. Gregg moved from club to club over the next few years and revived his career with the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks in 1998, setting a franchise record of thirty saves. Gregg finished his fourteen-year career after two seasons (2000 and 2001) as a “set up” man for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
For his career, Gregg recorded 217 saves with a 40-39 record, 588 strikeouts, and a 3.46 ERA in 672 innings pitched. The teams’ all-time saves leader was selected to the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame on March 19, 2008 and was inducted in ceremonies on August 8, 2008.
Coach. Though he coached for 35 years, this baseball wizard really hit his stride when taking on the Omaha Northwest High School baseball program as his special project. Under his guidance, the Northwest Huskies won six high school state championships. In 1983 his baseball team was ranked number one in the nation. Bill Olson had over 1,500 career wins with a winning percentage above .700. He also won 8 American Legion baseball state championships and finished third in their World Series in 1985. He was named the 1997 USA Olympic Development Coach of the Year.
See Gregg Olson bio for more information.