Wes Shepard – Lincoln

Coach. Wes’s basketball record with a career span of 48 years:  519 wins and 168 losses.  This includes one state championship and ten district titles plus numerous conference titles.  The administrator-coach also coached football, track, baseball and volleyball at the junior through college level during his career.  His Nebraska basketball teams reached the state tournament four times: Weston in 1956, Elmwood in 1985 and Lincoln Christian in 1991 and 1993, winning it in 1991.  Other career high lights include coaching a college All Star team in Europe, coaching a professional team in China in 1982, Assistant Coach on the Nebraska Coaches All Star Team in 1991 and coaching one of Valentino’s All Star teams in 1991.  Though officially retired from teaching,  Wes still serves as activity bus driver, substitute teacher and FCA sponsor.  He plans to continue coaching and working with young people.  He runs summer camps for children in kindergarten and up stressing basketball fundamentals and principled of integrity.  Previous honors received by Wes are the Mike Heck memorial award and the Ralph Beechner Coach of the Year Award. Volunteered with the basketball program of the Cornhusker State Games.


Chuck Stickels – Hastings

Athlete–A 1949 graduate of Hastings High School, a driving force for the Tigers basketball program, especially during his last two years with his all-state caliber play. In 1948 and 1949 Hastings High won 41 of 49 battles on the hardwood. This included a great victory over then long unbeaten Grand Island and runner-up at the state tournament at Lincoln in 1949. Later he was named All-American while at Hastings College, starring in both basketball and football. With his help, the 1954 Hastings College football team had its first undefeated season on over three decades.   Hastings High won 41 of 49 games in 1948 and 1949, with Chuck Stickels a great all-around contributor, especially as a scorer and rebounder. The Tigers ended the then state record 41-game winning streak for Grand Island and was state runner-up to Lincoln Northeast in 1949 in the state tournament finals. Stickels also played baseball for the Broncos and later signed a minor-league contract with the Chicago Cubs organization.  He was drafted in the 11th round by New York in the National Basketball Association. In 1964, he was inducted into the National Association Intercollegiate Athletics National Basketball Hall of Fame and in 1997 into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame.

Cory Schlesinger – Columbus


Cory Schlesinger ’s biggest moment of glory came when he scored two touchdowns in the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ 27-17 win over Miami in the 1995 Orange Bowl that sealed the national championship for the Cornhuskers. But the hard-hitting fullback with a reputation for breaking facemasks carried with him a history of a highly successful high school career. Schlesinger was the Omaha World-Herald’s high school athlete of the year after earning all-state honors in football and winning back-to-back state wrestling championships in his junior and senior years. Schlesinger compiled a 64-3 record on the wrestling mat those years. A linebacker and running back for the Discoverers, he rushed for 1,504 yards his senior season. At Nebraska, he started for two years at fullback. Schlesinger went on to play in the NFL for the Detroit Lions for 12 years and was an alternate Pro Bowl selection three times.

Homer Smith – Omaha Benson

Athlete, Coach. One of the better known football offensive coaches in America, Homer Smith did well as an athlete himself before graduating from Omaha Benson High School. Named all-city in Omaha in football, he was a winning Class A long jumper at the state track meet and a good hurdler. While playing football at Princeton University he was named All-East in both 1952 and 1953 and elected team captain in 1953. He has served as a head coach at Davidson College and the U.S. Military Academy. His niche came as offensive coordinator in both college and professional ranks. In 1990 he was named offensive coach of the year by The Sporting News publication. Certainly a quality coach well regarded by his peers and media.


Del Schoenfish – Cambridge


Del Schoenfish’s coaching career extended for more than 40 years. He coached at Valentine for five years before moving to Cambridge where he became a coaching icon, leading the Trojans to state championships in two sports. His teams drew praise for their preparation and the way they represented the school and community. He logged a career basketball coaching record of 522-231 that included one state championship and one state runner-up finish in nine state tournament appearances. The Trojans also won 10 conference titles under Shoenfish’s tuteledge. His golf teams qualified for the state tournament for 22 straight years, winning championships in 1996, 1997 and 1994 and finishing second in 1994.

John Sanders – Grand Island

Athlete. Outstanding letterman in three sports for Grand Island High School earned nine varsity letters and collected numerous personal honors: All State football quarterback in 1963; basketball All State and All State Tournament First Team in 1964; record for the most field goals in one state tournament game; single season and career scoring records for Grand Island High; 1964 Gold Medal discus winner in the State Track Meet breaking the 24 year old state discus record set by Howard Debus of Lincoln High.  He was the 1964 High School Athlete of the Year.

In June of 1964, John received two important documents–his high school diploma and a bonus contract from the baseball Kansas City Athletics.   Manager Whitey Herzog was present to do the signing honors.  It launched a lifetime in baseball. John was in the minors one year and then was called up to the majors with the Kansas City A’s in 1965. He was a long-time head baseball coach at the University of Nebraska. John is presently a minor league manager for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox, a Boston Red Sox farm team as well as manager for major league players on rehabilitation leave. He also has responsibilities in player development.

Dean Steinkuhler – Sterling

Athlete–Not far from the Big Nemaha River in southeastern Nebraska is the village of Burr. From this small place came a young man with a large talent who graduated from Sterling High School in 1979. Fortunately for Cornhusker fans, Coach Tom Osborne was astute enough to discover the talent and he encouraged Dean Steinkuhler to enroll at the University of Nebraska. The rest is history. From eight-man football roots, he became an All- American guard in 1983, winning the Outland Trophy and scoring on a trick play in the 1984 Orange Bowl. He was picked second in 1984 NFL draft by the Houston Oilers. Steinkuhler was named to nearly every All-American list in 1983, giving his hometown (population 110) the distinction of being the smallest town at the time to ever produce a consensus All-American. This outstanding lineman went on to play eight years of professional football with the Houston Oilers.

He followed fellow Husker Irving Fryar in the draft, marking only the second time in NFL history, and the first since 1967, that the top two players were from the same school.

Tuesday, October 23, 2001   Where Are They Now? Dean Steinkuhler  ABC Sports Online

Nearly 18 years later, Dean Steinkuhler can’t remember the actual name of the play that was called in from the sidelines that warm New Year’s night. Then again, the college football annals have since named it for him. It’s simply known as “fumblerooski.”

On Jan. 1, 1984, the All-American center Steinkuhler and his No. 1 Nebraska Cornhuskers found themselves behind 17-0 early to underdog Miami in the Orange Bowl. The Midwestern boys were noticeably tiring in the Florida heat, and the defense was proving no match for Bernie Kosar’s passing game. Nebraska needed to do something, and do something fast.

“We had worked on it all year in practice, once or twice a week in practice, but had never tried to use it,” said Steinkuhler. “When the play came in from the sideline, I was kind of shocked, but I just said, ‘Here we go.'”

The play, since banned in college football, involved quarterback Turner Gill leaving the ball on the ground as if there had been a fumble. Steinkuhler, the hefty lineman, picked it up and ran 19 yards for the touchdown to the amazement of 72,549 onlookers and, in particular, the television cameras.

“I think I showed my kids the tape a few years ago,” said Steinkuhler, “but it’s tough because (TV) didn’t get a lot of the play.”

Of course the Cornhuskers’ trickery couldn’t keep them from falling 31-30 in what was then considered a major upset. The Husker legacy that included Gill, Outland and Lombardi Trophy winner Steinkuhler, Heisman running back Mike Rozier and future NFL wide receiver Irving Fryar left school without a national title, but that couldn’t damper Steinkuhler’s time in Lincoln.

“It was definitely the highlight of my college career, playing in the Orange Bowl vs. Miami,” he said. “All we could ask for was a shot at (the title). I still say we were the better team that year, but they were the better team that night. But hey, if you know you’re going to win, you wouldn’t play the game.”

Steinkuhler’s next football game would take place with the NFL’s Houston Oilers, whom he played for through 1991. Though he enjoyed much success in the pros, it didn’t compare with college. He had been spoiled by Nebraska’s top-flight facilities, training and, of course, coaching. No one could compare with Tom Osborne, the Cornhusker coaching legend who retired last year. Dean Steinkuhler still follows his Huskers today.

“I was never around a guy who was more sincere or caring,” Steinkuhler said of Osborne. “We had 100, 125 guys on our team. I didn’t even know everyone’s name, but he did. And he knew something about every one of them, he knew where they were from, and, somehow, he always knew if they had a problem. He just had that sense, I guess.

“That’s why, when I got to the NFL, I found out it was definitely a business. It really soured me on the whole idea. I still watch a lot of pro football, but some of the coaches, especially, you question their integrity and, often, their intelligence. I could teach more in an afternoon than some of these people know.”

These days Steinkuhler resides in Syracuse, Neb., about 30 miles outside Lincoln, with his wife and three children. The self-employed Steinkuhler is a hard man to track down, as he spends his days operating a nearby car wash and renting home storage units, and his nights coaching his sons’ football teams.

The easiest time to locate him is probably Saturdays and Sundays, when he’s either in front of the television or in the stands at Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium. “You’ve got to understand, in this state on Saturday afternoons, that’s all there is,” he said.

Steinkuhler still follows the Huskers closely and is openly supportive of Frank Solich.

“Hopefully we’ll get a good 10, 15 years from him,” Steinkuhler said. “But then I’ve got a former teammate I’d like to see there.” Which teammate? None other than current Husker assistant and the man that “fumbled” that ball, Gill.


Pro Football Stats

Dean Elmer Steinkuhler

Position: OT/T

Height: 6′ 3” Weight: 283

Born: 1/27/1961, in Burr, NE, USA

High School: Sterling (NE)

College: Nebraska

Regular Season Stats     FUMBLES Year AGE Team LG GP   TOT OWR OPR YDS TD 1984 23 Houston NFL 10   0 0 0 0 0 1986 25 NFL 16   0 2 0 0 0 1987 26 NFL 11   0 0 0 0 0 1988 27 “ NFL 16   0 2 0 0 0 1989 28 “ NFL 16   0 0 0 0 0 1990 29 “” NFL 15   0 0 0 0 0 1991 30 “” NFL 16   0 0 0 0 0 7 Season Totals   100   0 4 0 0 0

Russ Snyder – Nelson


Athlete. 1952 grad.

A starting outfielder for the 1966 World Series Champion Baltimore Orioles, Russ Snyder played in the major leagues from 1959-1970, building a career on athletic prowess that developed at Nelson High School where he was a three-sport star. Snyder earned all-conference honors as a running back in football. He was a two-time all-conference pick in basketball, averaging 15 points per game. In 1952 he qualified for the state track meet in five events, finishing third in the hurdles, fourth in the 100 and sixth in the “selective pentathlon.” During the off-seasons of his major league career, he returned to Nelson to coach junior high basketball and referee high school basketball. In his “retirement,” Snyder coaches baseball and girls basketball at Lawrence/Nelson. 

Reuben Schleifer – Chester

Coach.  There was a time when the purple and gold uniformed Bulldogs of Chester High School in Thayer County were at the top of the charts in Class D athletics. During the twentieth century, Coach Reuben Schleifer deserves much credit for this athletic success. Following his service in World War II, he spent forty-one years teaching at this locale. For ten years he coached football and track with a record of 58-18 including an undefeated season. His basketball coaching career covered thirty years with a record of 456-167. In 1953, his good guidance brought the Chester Bulldogs to a Class D State Championship in Lincoln with a great record that year of 24 wins and no losses. Of many just awards, this teacher-coach is most proud of being selected Nebraska Outstanding Teacher by Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1988.


C. Dale Snook – Lincoln University High School


In the last assembly before Lincoln’s University High closed its doors forever, the athletes presented coach Dale Snook a plaque inscribed with: “To coach, who gave us reasons to win, not excuses.” His philosophy of rejecting excuses served University High well. In the 19 years he coached the school’s basketball and track teams, the Tutors won state basketball titles in 1954 and 1965 and the track crown in 1953.The basketball team was the state runner-up in 1957 and in 15 years of his coaching career, the Tutors finished the year ranked in the top 10 in the state. Snook’s legacy on the basketball court was a ball-control style. He developed a semi-stall pattern in 1957.