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–One of the most exciting athletes of all time, this 1949 Grand Island High School graduate showed his natural ability early. While an Islander sophomore, he was already a starter on the fine basketball team there which captured back to back Class A state championships. And in football, the Purple & Gold rolled over all on the gridiron with Bobby Reynolds in the backfield to two undefeated state championship seasons. Yet it was his achievements as a University of Nebraska Cornhusker halfback which created the legend. In his greatest season on the football gridiron as a college sophomore in 1950, he reached All-American status. He was a top scorer in the nation, and his unbelievable run from scrimmage against Missouri is still shown on film. Yes, for one brief shining moment, without question Bobby Reynolds was “Mr. Touchdown, USA.”
Contributor. Jim Riley served in the field of education for 44 years and in the Nebraska School Activities Association for 31 years. Riley was hired as Assistant Executive Director for the NSAA on Aug. 1, 1970, and was promoted to Executive Director in August 1976. The NSAA staff grew from three employees to 11 full-time employees during Riley’s tenure. Also, the NSAA sponsored six sports in 1970 and had grown to 21 by 2001, including non-sport activities. Riley retired in September 2001, completing a 25-year reign as Executive Director. In 2002, Riley was given the NSAA Distinguished Service Award for his work with the NSAA. Valuable contributor to the national high school scene through committee/advisory work with the National Federation of State High School Associations.
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.