Laura (Pilakowski) Buttermore excelled on every field and court. The first female four-year, three-sport letterman at Columbus High School, she earned all-state honors in volleyball and basketball and qualified for the state track meet all four years. The consensus 1999 Female Athlete of the Year, she was the Nebraska Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year as a senior, averaged a double double on the basketball court her junior and senior years and won the long jump gold medal as a sophomore. At Nebraska, she became a two-time volleyball All-American, helping lead the Huskers to the national championship in 2000. She finished her career playing on the Husker women’s basketball team.
Jim Paige spent more than 50 years calling fouls and penalties in football, basketball and track at Nebraska high school athletic events. Described as “quiet, unassuming and hard-working,” Paige displayed a respect for athletes and coaches while maintaining fairmindedness in the implementation of the rules. Selected as the Nebraska Football Official of the Year, Paige worked a handful of state football championships as well as several state basketball tournaments. Primarily a starter in track and cross country, Paige has been a triple jump official at the state track meet for more than 30 years. In addition to being an active official, Paige has mentored dozens of young referees, bringing quality to the ranks of the profession. He has also been an observer and evaluator of officials for the NSAA.
No one could account for all the athletes and students who have benefitted from the unselfish contributions Mike Purdy has made to their lives. A coach and administrator in the middle school and high school ranks for more than 40 years, Purdy pioneered and promoted programs and activities that made interscholastic activities in Nebraska a better place. Throughout a career centered on the interests of all students and athletes, Purdy developed scholarship programs, promoted sportsmanship summits and awards, supervised sporting events of every description and fostered an atmosphere of cooperation among organizations supporting athletics. A leader among his peers, Purdy earned Distinguished Service Awards from the Nebraska and National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Associations.
A past chairman of the Metro Conference, Purdy is the NSIAAA’s Executive Director. Mike retired from Bellevue East in 2004.
Coach. After serving in the US Navy and completing college studies, George Pfeifer came “home” to Boys Town, his alma mater, early in the 1950’s and enjoyed an outstanding head coaching career in basketball and track, and helped with football. His Cowboy basketball teams won the Class A state championship in 1965 and 1966 and his track team was the Class A 1954 champ. He was also the No. 2 man on the Boys Town staff when the school won 1956 and 1957 basketball titles. His track programs turned out some great runners, among them Hall of Fame inductees Charles Jones and Barney Hill. He served as Boys Town’s junior high principal and the school’s athletic director for many years. Graduated in 1944 from Boys Town and earned degrees from Fort Hays State and University of Nebraska-Omaha.
Class of 1988
John Parrella played in three Super Bowls–the Buffalo Bills in 1994, the San Diego Chargers in 1995 and the Oakland Raiders in 2003–during a 13-year professional career at defensive tackle. His football days started at Grand Island Central Catholic High School where he excelled in football and was named a high-school All-American. He earned all-state honors twice and led the 1986 playoff team in tackles and receiving yards. A walk-on for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Parrella lettered for three years, earning All-Big Eight honors in 1991 and 1992 and second-team All-American honors as a senior. He was a second-round draft pick in 1993 by the Buffalo Bills.
Contributor. Louise Pound was a pioneer among women athletes in the state of Nebraska, enjoying much success during her high school age years although never participating in structured high school athletics. Tennis and golf were her top sports, but she gained acclaim in figure skating, skiing, cycling, basketball, swimming, riding and bowling. She was captain of the University of Nebraska basketball team. She was Lincoln’s best woman golfer for more than 20 years and in 1916 was the first state women’s golf champion. In tennis, many of her championships came against all comers, including men. At one time, she was the top-ranked amateur tennis player in the country. During her 50 years as a professor at the University of Nebraska, she was a staunch advocate of increased opportunities in athletics for females. Deceased.
Nebraska high school’s athlete of the year in 1980, he was a three-sport prep standout whose fourth – and best sport – baseball, took him to the 1982 College World Series and the 1983 Pan American Games. Drafted by the Texas Rangers, he was All-American in baseball in 1985. At Aurora, Penner quarterbacked a Husky team that went undefeated in the regular season and first playoff appearance in 1979, then he earned all-class all-state honors in basketball as the Huskies went 22-3 and reached the state tournament semifinals in 1980. At the state track meet, he placed third in the 100 in 1980 and ran on school-record setting 400- and 1,600-meter relay teams.
Official. It is enough said, perhaps, that Vern Plambeck has officiated high school sports since 1954. That’s six decades, and it would have been continuous except for a 1957 Army tour of duty. In the whistle-blowing fraternity, he developed into one of the best — calling seven state basketball tournaments, including the 1973 Class A boys championship game; officiating 33 football playoff games since 1976, including the first overtime game played in Nebraska (Nov. 12, 1976, Wheatland 38, Hampton 32, Class D championship game). He worked the Coaches Association All-Star Basketball and Shrine Bowl All-Star Football games. He has served the NSAA as a basketball observer starting in 1990, and did the proofreading in 1999 of the National Federation of State High School Association football rulebook and other publications. Hastings High School graduate. College degrees: Hastings College, University of Nebraska. Lives in Kearney, retired professor of English.
Few probably would recognize his face, but many knew his voice from radio broadcasts to the public address announcements at many events. Jack Payne provided the soundtrack to numerous high school and college events, including the state track meet, which he announced for 27 years. He also loaned his voice to the Metro Conference track meet for nearly 40 years and the College World Series for 37 years. He began broadcasting football games while a college student in Oklahoma. After military service in World War II, he returned to Oklahoma and began his association with high school sports by broadcasting the field events at the state track meet on state-wide radio. Payne is best known for his 17 years at WOW and WOWTV and his 22 years at KFAB in Omaha. He was on the Husker football broadcasts from 1970-92 and broadcast Nebraska basketball, high school basketball and the Drake Relays.
Athlete. A 1982 graduate of Bellevue East, Parker excelled at football where he lettered for three years for the Nebraska Cornhuskers and was an Associated Press All-American Honorable Mention in 1986. At Bellevue East he excelled in wrestling and track as well, going undefeated (25-0) in wrestling in 1982 and winning the state championship. He also won the Class A discus in 1981. His throw of 191 feet, 2 inches topped the all-time charts at the time, and his throw of 194-1 in 1982 was the second-longest throw in the nation that year. He was drafted in the ninth round of the NFL draft by the New York Giants.