As a coach, historian, promoter and documentarian, Jerry Stine dedicated countless hours to the betterment of Nebraska high school sports. Throughout his 40-year career, Stine coached boys’ basketball & track at Wheeler Central – Bartlett and girls’ basketball and boys’ and girls’ track at Bertrand. After leaving the coaching ranks, Stine continued to contribute to high school sports as a long-time member of the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame Foundation’s board of directors, documenting and organizing the board’s historical research. A past-president of the Nebraska Coaches Association, Stine is the creator, author and secretary of the NCA milestone awards that bear his name.
Bellevue West (Class of 1978)
A lock-down defender on the basketball court and a speedy outfielder on the baseball diamond, Daryl Stovall used his athletic skills to allow him to be selected by the Chicago White Sox in the Major League Baseball draft, and the San Diego Clippers in the NBA draft. At Bellevue West, he averaged 24 points and 11 rebounds as a senior all-stater. On the baseball diamond, he was a two-time all-state selection. At Creighton University, he continued to play both sports, setting a freshman home run record and averaging double figures in basketball his last three years. He signed with the Chicago White Sox before his senior baseball season.
South Sioux City (Class of 2001)
The road under Anne Shadle’s feet often seemed to fly by. At South Sioux City, where her father was the coach, Shadle took the first steps to becoming a premier runner. She won three Class B and two all-class gold medals at the state cross country championships and three all-class gold medals at the state track meet. She went on to earn seven track and cross country letters at Nebraska, making the jump to the next level when she won the indoor mile and outdoor 1,500 at the NCAA championships in 2005. She graduated from Nebraska holding two individual and three relay records. After college, she ran professionally for three years, competing in the 2008 Olympic Trials.
Omaha Marian (Class of 1995)
Renee Saunders kept her eye on the ball. Named all-class all-state in volleyball and basketball her junior and senior seasons, she led Omaha Marian to the state basketball tournament every year and a state runner-up finish her junior year. She graduated as Marian’s all-time leader in scoring and rebounding. On the volleyball court, she garnered All-American honors, logging 335 kills as a senior. She also lettered in softball and track and field at Marian and was the consensus athlete of the year by The Omaha World Herald and The Lincoln Journal Star her senior season. Saunders went on to play basketball and volleyball at the University of Nebraska. Though her basketball career was short, she was a major contributor for the Husker volleyball team.
Omaha Marian (Class of 2001)
The Athlete of the Year tag stuck to Omaha Marian’s Laura Spanheimer, who twice earned the honor from the Lincoln Journal-Star and as a senior from the Omaha World-Herald. She led Marian to back-to-back state basketball championships those years, earning all-metro and all-state accolades. An outstanding runner as well, she burst on the scene by winning the All-Class gold medal in the 1,600 at the state meet as a freshman. She went on to win two individual 800 gold medals and ran on four state-champion 4×800 relays, including one that set a state and state meet record. In cross country, she finished second in state as a sophomore and junior and won the event as a senior. At Creighton University, she earned All-Missouri Valley basketball honors and finished her career with the most steals in Bluejay history and the second-highest total of games played.
Lincoln High (Class of 1998)
In spite of her diminutive size, Sarah Sasse-Kildow cast a long shadow on Nebraska high school girls golf. After tying for fourth at the state meet as a freshman and second as a sophomore, she won back-to-back state titles as a junior and senior. She also dominated the amateur golf ranks, winning three state junior match-play championships and the first of five women’s state amateur championships the summer before her senior year. At the University of Nebraska, Sasse-Kildow was a three-time All-Big 12 pick and the conference champion and Player of the Year as a senior, the year she claimed first-team All-American honors. She established Husker records for the lowest 36- and 54-hole scores and went on to compete in three U.S. Women’s Amateur Championships.
Athlete. Cliff’s athletic career began with 13 varsity letters at Bethany and Lincoln Northeast high schools. He was co-captain of Northeast’s first state championship football team in 1943. It was that year he was selected Nebraska’s “Prep Player of the Year” which was the forerunner of the “Athlete of the Year” award. He also garnered all-state honors in both football and basketball in 1943 and 1944. He was one of the factors in Northeast’s run to the state tournament in ‘42, ‘43 ‘and ’44. He was on the all-state tournament team in ‘43 and ‘44. His college career took him a few blocks west where he competed for the Plainsmen of Nebraska Wesleyan University, again earning 13 varsity letters and was named small college all-American in football in ‘46, ‘47, ‘48, and ‘49. In 1950 he was picked by the Detroit Lions in the 14th round. Returning to Lincoln to work as a sporting goods salesman and football official, he officiated for 30 years, 20 of those as a Big Eight official. Cliff worked eight major bowl games, one of which was the ‘79 Sugar Bowl between Penn State and Alabama for the national championship. He also officiated the first Nebraska Shrine Bowl Game. Cliff has also been enshrined in the Northeast Hall of Fame, Nebraska Wesleyan Hall of Fame, and the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame.
A motivator, innovator and a master builder of programs, Gene Suhr created a winning legacy on the football fields at Ord and Papillion. He compiled a 200-95 record over a 23-year head coaching career, which included 21 state playoff appearances. Suhr led Papillion-LaVista to undefeated state championship seasons in 1990 and 1996, with both teams considered among Nebraska’s all-time best. His Monarchs also won state runner-up honors in 1985, 1995 and 1997. The first trip to the finals came in his second year at Papillion-LaVista. The school had only one previous playoff team. The Monarchs went on to a state record 16 straight playoff appearances. He has won several coach of the year awards and was in demand as a speaker at coaching clinics. He finished his coaching career as offensive coordinator at Wayne State College.
Contributor. A huge, huge percentage of the credit for the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame Foundation goes to Dennis Smith. He had a vision of this organization and served the board from the organizational days of 1993. He’s been the treasurer since 1996. His 32-year career at Papillion-LaVista schools that included a position as principal from 1979-2000, netted many honors, including the naming of the annual high school track meet the “Denny Smith Invitational.” He was elected to the NSAA Board of Control for 21 years and his colleagues clearly recall his stance on most issues being “how does this affect the kids.” He was instrumental in the fundraising of more than a million dollars for the Papillion-LaVista stadium facility. He grew up in Cherokee, Iowa, and his football, basketball, track exploits drew him to Wayne State. He taught and coached at Creighton before moving to Papillion.
The Big Eight Female Athlete of the Year in 1989, Viriginia (Stahr) Gee started her career at Centennial High School where she earned 12 varsity letters before her graduation in 1985 when she was the Lincoln Journal Star Athlete of the Year. Stahr’s Centennial volleyball teams had a combined 80-11 record, going 24-0 and winning the Class C-1 state championship her senior year. She was all-state in basketball her junior and senior years and qualified for the state track meet in 12 events during her high school years. She played volleyball at the University of Nebraska, playing for four Big Eight Conference championship teams that had a combined record of 116-20. She played on the 1989 national runner-up team, earning Big Eight Player of the Year and NCAA All-Tournament Team honors. She earned All-American honors in 1988 and 1989.