Gale Sayers – Omaha Central

Athlete–No one ever looked better on the gridiron wearing the purple and white football uniform of the Omaha Central Eagles than this backfield dancer who graduated in 1961. Wherever he played, spectators couldn’t forget his incredible ability to “shift gears” and leave all behind when he made his move for a touchdown.  He was all-state twice in football, the state’s leading scorer (Class A) twice. He lead Central in 1960 to an unbeaten year during which the team was touted as state champion. Still a legend in track & field Nebraska annals. Gale Sayers jumped an astounding 24 feet 10 inches in the long jump in 1961, the longest jump in the nation that year by a high school athlete and the Nebraska state record for nearly four decades. An All-American college halfback at the University of Kansas, he is also most remembered as one of the best players in professional football, during a career cut shot by injuries for the Chicago Bears.

In football, Sayers led the state in scoring both his junior and senior seasons, scoring 127 points as a senior.  Although his school’s statistics are almost non-existent, newspaper research revealed that he had several games of over 100 yards rushing (no total season rushing totals could be found).  In addition to his offensive prowess, newspaper accounts report that during his senior year, he scored on a pass interception return of 53 yards and fumble recovery return for 29 yards.

Sayers was selected to the Scholastic Coach All-America High School Track Team, having had the lead performance in the broad (long) jump in 1961 across the nation.

He still holds the Bears record for the number of touchdowns scored in a single season (22) set his first year in the NFL. Sayers also still holds the Bears record for the most touchdowns and points scored in a single game. He scored six touchdowns for 36 points in a 1965 game against San Francisco.  During his career, Sayers had nearly 9,500 combined net yards, almost 5,000 yards rushing and scored 336 points. He also was the NFL’s lifetime kickoff return leader.Sayers was named the Pro Bowl’s Player of the Game in 1967, 1968 and 1970, and was named to the 75th Anniversary All Time NFL Team. He was also named to the Chicago Sports Hall of Fame in 1980, the Blacks Sports Hall of Fame in 1975 and the NFL All-Time Millennium Team. In 1977, he was the youngest player ever inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.

The Pro Football Writers of America once named Sayers the NFL’s most courageous player to acknowledge his dedicated comeback from career-threatening knee surgery.

After completing his professional football career, Sayers returned to Kansas University and earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education while also handling duties of assistant athletic director. He then accepted the assignment as assistant director of the Williams Education Fund for three years and earned his master’s degree in educational administration. From 1976 through 1981, he was athletic director at Southern Illinois University.

Following a successful career at SIU, Sayers moved back to Chicago and launched a sports marketing and public relations firm, Sayers and Sayers Enterprises.

In 1984, Sayers and his wife, Ardythe, started a computer reseller firm. Today, the Sayers Group is a national technology solutions provider with locations across the United States.

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Jodi Stineman Emsick – Lincoln Southeast

Athlete.  Jodi Stineman Emsick had “champion” written all over her from the start of her career at Lincoln Southeast. She played and starred on state championship teams in cross country, basketball (twice) and track. She was the first Lincoln Southeast athlete to win 12 varsity letters along with these laurels: Female high school athlete of the year (1988), Class A basketball all-state twice and an all-class all-state pick in 1988, three-time Class A state champion in the 800-meter run and a gold medal winner in the distance relay. At the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Stineman started every basketball game in her four-year career except when injured and scored 1,124 points in four college seasons. She also lettered in track for the Lopers. Lives in Portage, MI.

 

Larry Station – Omaha Central

Athlete. Strength is the best word to describe this fine athlete who graduated from Omaha Central High School in 1982. He gained all-state football acclaim as a two-way player.  His linebacking play showed the promise and the prowess that would carry him to a great college career. His achievements in track & field were spectacular. Winning the shot put at the state meet two years running, 1981 and 1982, he set a new state record of 62-11½. In the spring of 1982, he had a gold medal winning discus throw over 202 feet. Later as a University of Iowa linebacker, he was named as one of the best Hawkeye football players in the century and was a two-time All-American. He played professional football at Pittsburgh

 

Joe Salerno – Omaha Central

inducteeAthlete. (1988)

From nearly as far back as he can remember, Joe Salerno found tennis in his back yard. He won four straight No. 1 singles championships in high school – the second player in Nebraska history to do so — within sight of his home. The Salernos lived in the upstairs of the Dewey Park Clubhouse where his father was the park’s groundskeeper. In national junior competition, Salerno defeated future Grand Slam winners Michael Chang and Jim Courier. He also played second base for the Omaha Central baseball team. After high school, he played tennis at Tyler (Texas) Junior College, where he was a junior college All-American, then at Nebraska and Alabama.

George Sullivan – Lincoln

Contributor. For more than 50 years George Sullivan’s name was synonymous with excellence in training, physical therapy and Nebraska athletics. In fact, he was so well thought of that the training room in Memorial Stadium is named for him. Although he officially retired in 1996 after being the head trainer for 20 years, he continued as a medical consultant to the Nebraska Athletic Department and other organizations. His induction into The Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame is merely the latest in a long line of selections into various Nebraska and national halls of fame. Many high school coaches would consider the Rockville, Nebraska, native a great asset for them because of his availability in time of injury need. In many smaller communities where there were no doctors or at least none with a sports medicine background, George was their salvation. Usually all it took was one call to the University training room and he would set up a time to evaluate the injured athlete. After his evaluation he would recommend a method of therapy, proper wrapping, taping or total rest if necessary. If the injury was of a more serious nature he would recommend physicians for further evaluation. 

Chuck Stevens – Lincoln

 

CONTRIBUTOR
Chuck Stevens provided the voice of Lincoln high school sports for 30 years while broadcasting games for KFOR Radio. Three times selected as the Nebraska Sportscaster of the Year, he often would broadcast  nearly 100 football and basketball games a year, bringing a down-home style to his play-by-play broadcasts. He punctuated the games’ highlights and thrilling moments with a signature, “Holy Moly.” Stevens, a Sterling, Colo., native, came to Lincoln in 1960, working at KOLN TV, where he worked his way into a weekend sports anchor position. But he soon moved to radio, working in sales and other areas before tackling sports play-by-play and providing sports scores and news updates throughout the day.

 

 


 

 

George Sauer – Lincoln High

Athlete–One of many great high school football players to wear the red and black of Lincoln High School, in 1928 as a junior he scored four touchdowns in the state championship game, As a senior in 1929, all-state honors were awarded him as a fullback. He also did well in track, serving on a state championship team where he threw the discus. As an all around excellent player who could run, kick and pass,  he often left the competition wondering what he would do next. For three years, 1931-33, George Sauer was a great fullback for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, helping them win the conference, and reaching All-American status his last year on the gridiron in college. He played a number of years in professional football, then went into coaching.

At the University of Nebraska, Sauer became an emulated football hero.  Nebraskan kids idolized the Lincoln native often pressing their mothers to sew George’s famous number 25 onto their sweaters. Coach D.X. Bible glowed when speaking of the player, “He was probably my best all-around athlete. He was great at carrying the ball and he was one of the best on defense. He simply rolled up his sleeves and met the ball carrier head on.”  At the end of his senior season he led the voting for players in the New Year’s Day All-Star game. Sauer distinguished himself by intercepting passes and scoring the only touchdowns of the game. After the game news writer Lawrence Perry commented that Sauer, “stands clearly as the premier ball carrier in the nation.”

In 1961 he was manager and assistant coach of the then New York Titans, who later became the Jets. He was instrumental in the signing of quarterback Joe Namath.

Clarence Swanson – Wakefield

Clarence Swanson 2007

Athlete.  A 1917 graduate of Wakefield High School where he played football, basketball and baseball. He was a freshman starter on the football team. At the University of Nebraska, Swanson was a four-year letterman on the football team. He set a school record for career touchdown receptions (17) that stood until after his death in 1970. He was a second-team All-American in 1921. The university’s Clarence E. Swanson Memorial Award “for outstanding contributions to UNL and the Husker athletic department” bears his name.

Amy Stephens – Alliance

Athlete. High school basketball state scoring leader in several categories for a number of years. Career points: 1,656. Points in one season: 779. Points in one game: 48. Frankly, there was nobody quite like her. She was a four-year starter at Nebraska. She averaged over 17 points. Kodak District V All-American. Twice All-Big Eight. Second in career scoring at Nebraska (1,976), first in assists (444) and steals (280). Played for the United States National Team and professionally in Germany for a year. Fifth year as head coach at University of Nebraska-Kearney. Record: 97-23. National ranking of 9th and 10th the past two years. Twice conference coach of the year.

Debbie Spickelmier Noble – Hayes Center

inducteeAthlete. (1985)

A small-school superstar who, along with her twin sister, Donna, made Hayes Center a player on the state tournament scene where the Cardinals won back-to-back Class D state track championships in 1984 and 1985, the Class D-2 state basketball championship in 1985 and finished second in volleyball in 1984. Debbie excelled in track, winning 15 medals at the state track meet, including two all-class gold medals in the 800 meters, penning her name on the all-time charts in that race. On the basketball court, she was a Class D-2 all-stater as a junior and a senior. She also garnered all-state honors in volleyball as a senior. In college, she was a seven-time All-American running for Kearney State and Chadron State.