Diane Rouzee’s 30-year career as head volleyball coach of Grand Island Northwest produced three state championships, six runner-up finishes, 23 trips to the state tournament and a 768-183 record. The recipient of the National Coach of the Year Award in 2018, Rouzee retired with the eighth-highest win total in Nebraska history. Called a “second mother” by many of her players, she watched her teams establish state records for kills and digs in a match. She has been on the coaching staff of the Nebraska Coaches Association All-Star Game three times, twice as head coach.
Rochelle Rohlfs forged Omaha Marian into a volleyball power, rolling up a 718-245 record in her 26 years as head coach. Her career included four state championships, four other state finals appearances and a total of 21 trips to the state tournament. She coached in the Nebraska Coaches Association All-Star Game three times and has won several Coach of the Year awards. An educator at heart who viewed coaching as teaching, she had eight of her former players go on to become head volleyball coaches at Nebraska high schools. She also had brief stints coaching soccer and track at Marian.
South Sioux City (Class of 2001)
Katie (Robinette) Kock collected almost every basketball honor available to a prep athlete. Her coach, Kelly Flynn, said she was a coach’s dream ╨ a great player and hard worker who never hesitated to help younger players improve their game. Her list of honors included prep All-American, Gatorade Player of the Year, four-time all-stater, and holder of several school records. She finished her career averaging more than 18 points and eight rebounds per game while leading the Cardinals to a 102-5 record, three state championships and a No. 1 national ranking in USA Today. She played collegiately at Nebraska and Iowa State, earning All-Big 12 second-team honors as a senior for the Cyclones.
Benkelman (Class of 1975)
Danis (Richards) Willet made the quarter-mile race her specialty, winning the Class C gold medal all four years and claiming all-class honors her junior and senior seasons. She finished her high school track career with 15 medals in the 440-, 880- and 220-yard dashes as well as the mile relay. At Kearney State College, she continued to set records, ranking in the top 25 of all collegiate runners and becoming the first Nebraska woman to break the 55-second barrier in the 400. Her career in track continued into her 30s where she won national titles in the 100, 200 and 400 and won the National Outstanding Female Athlete Award in her age group in 1991.
Lincoln Southeast (Class of 2001)
Touchdowns highlighted Barrett Ruud’s football career before tackles made him a pro. The cornerstone of three Lincoln Southeast state football championships, Ruud made the Knights varsity as a freshman, started as a sophomore and set school career records with 2,988 rushing yards and 54 touchdowns. The Lincoln Journal-Star’s Athlete of the Year in 2001, Ruud was a three-year letterman and a two-time all-state honorable mention all-state selection in basketball. A third-generation Husker football standout, he was a 4-year letterman at linebacker, setting a single-season and career record for tackles. He went on to play eight years in the NFL, making more than 100 tackles in half of those years.
Norfolk Catholic (Class of 1988)
Good at everything he did, Kevin Ramaekers locked up the Athlete of the Year award in 1988 by earning all-state honors in football, winning gold at the state wrestling meet and winning the all-class gold medal in the shot put at the state track meet. A Bally All-American in 1987, he helped Norfolk Catholic reach the state championship game his senior year, concluding a career where he was a two-time all-class, all-state player. On the wrestling mat, he finished third at state as a sophomore and a junior before winning his senior season. Posting the fourth-best shot-put mark in state history, he won back-to-back all-class gold medals. A three-year mainstay on the defensive line at Nebraska, Ramaekers earned All-Big Eight honors as a senior and was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Athlete. Omaha Tech Class of 1969. High school athlete of the year. 1972 Heisman Trophy Winner. Before he became one of the most exciting players to ever wear the Cornhusker Scarlet and Cream, his exploits on Omaha’s high school football fields was nothing short of legendary. He ran the ball, caught it, returned it. He was also outstanding on defense. Other high school exploits included a state championship in the long jump and all-star laurels in basketball where he was a 20-point a game player.
Rodgers blossomed as a national star in 1971 to lead Nebraska to its second consecutive national championship. It was Rodgers’ sensational 72-yard punt return for the first touchdown that ignited the Huskers’ thrilling 35-31 victory over Oklahoma in the “Game of the Century” in 1971. His 77-yard punt return touchdown against Alabama helped trigger the 38-6 Orange Bowl victory and sewed up Nebraska’s second national title.
He owned 43 school records, seven conference records and four NCAA records during his three-year career, in which Nebraska posted a 32-2-2 record. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame on December 14, 2000, in New York. Played in both Canandian and National Football League professional leagues.
Rodgers returned to Omaha involved in community and public relations, including the Husker Heisman weekend and his company, Jetwear.
Coach. In 30 years as volleyball coach at Centennial, Phyllis (Rice) Honnor posted a 459-151 record and led her team to the state tournament 12 times. Centennial won state championships in 1984, 1985 and 1987 and finished second in 1998. Her teams won 14 subdistrict and 12 district championships. Centennial’s volleyball team was ranked in the top six from 1980 to 1992 and from 1997 to 1999. Rice-Honnor was also the Centennial track coach from 1971 to 1987, coaching at least one state medalist in 10 of those years. She also served as head basketball coach for one season. Rice-Honnor was named the Lincoln Journal Star Female Coach of the Year for 1987-1988. She was also nominated for the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 1983, 1986 and 1988.
Athlete–One of the most highly regarded college football centers of all time, this 1978 graduate of Omaha South High School began his gridiron career as a youngster in the Pee Wee group also in that locale. He was a 6-3, 220-pound lineman who gained high school all-state honors and led South High to a 7-2-1 record in his senior year. Outstanding high school wrestler. As a University of Nebraska Cornhusker, he reached All-America status as a powerful center, finishing fifth in Heisman Trophy voting, most unusual for a lineman in 1982. After college, he played seven years of professional football in the NFL. An Outland, Trophy winner in college, this gentle giant has had his Nebraska football number retired by unanimous acclaim.
Few had the drive Rimington had in the weight room and the classroom. At UNL Rimington went from a “slow, practically skinny” lineman to a fast, hole-opening machine cutting his 40-yard dash from 5.35 to 5.05 from his freshman to his senior year, increasing his bench press from 340 pound to 435 and left Nebraska able to squat 650 pounds.
Equally as impressive was his skill in the classroom with a 3.25 GPA in economics as two-time, first-team Academic All-America and a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete.
Athlete. Randy Reeves, the 1966 Omaha World-Herald Athlete of the Year, excelled on and off the field. Reeves was the valedictorian of his class of more than 800 students and a National Merit Scholar. On the football field, he was a three-year starter for the Benson football team and received All-Metro, All-State and All-American honors and was named the Coca-Cola Back of the Year. He was a two-year starter for the Benson basketball team. In track, Reeves won the gold medal in the pole vault at the state track meet in 1965 when he cleared 14 feet. He was the first Nebraska pole vaulter to reach that height. Reeves went on to play football for the University of Nebraska where he lettered from 1967 to 1969. In 1969 Reeves was an Academic All-Big Eight and Academic All-American defensive back.