Athlete. This multi-talented gentleman began his long connection with Nebraska athletics as an all-state quarterback for Ord High School from which he graduated in 1939. Ord High was state champion his senior year on the gridiron and undefeated. Later he was a member of the famous Cornhusker football team which played in the 1941 Rose Bowl. His coaching career included a stint at Alliance High School where he guided the Bulldogs to the 1948 Class A State Championship at the Boys State Track Meet. After also coaching at Grand Island, he became a coach & administrator at Kearney State College beginning in 1955. Thanks to his success at Kearney State with the coaching program and as an inspiration to others, a large number of fine high school coaches emerged from the Kearney State program.
Lee Zentic, the inaugural coach at Lincoln East, promptly put the school in the thick of championship races. He directed six state championship teams – 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1979 — and coached 57 all-state players. His coaching honors include 1975 Lincoln Journal Star Coach of the Year, 1976 Omaha World-Herald Coach of the Year, 1980 Nebraska Coaches’ Association Coach of the Year, 1980 Journal Star Coach of the Decade, 1985 National High School Regional Coach of the Year and 1970 Shrine Bowl head coach. He posted a career record 187-127-7. He also coached at Tecumseh, where his basketball team made a state tournament appearance, and in Shenandoah, Iowa. Rock Island (IL) native. Football & baseball at University of Nebraska.
Coach. A high school and college track standout, Howard Zook coached several sports and found success in all. In a 28-year coaching career at 10 schools in Nebraska and Wyoming, he piled up more than 350victories in basketball and 80 in football, even though some of the schools didn’t offer football. A 1930 Peru State graduate from Tecumseh, he coached three undefeated, mythical state championship football teams at Ewing and Fairfield, the 33-0 Class D basketball champions of 1950 at Glenvil and the 1960 Class D track champions at Fairfield. Known for motivating his players and instilling confidence without raising his voice, Zook also coached at Davenport, Henry, Giltner and Ohiowa in Nebraska, and Shawnee and Medicine Bow in Wyoming.
Grand Island Central Catholic
Sharon Zavala epitomized coaching excellence with a career of sustained success that covered 40-plus years and a variety of situations. After arriving fresh out of college in 1975, Zavala built Grand Island Central Catholic into a powerhouse that consistently produced collegiate players and championships. At the time of her Hall of Fame induction in 2015, the Crusaders had won nine state championships and claimed eight runner-up trophies in 28 state tournament appearances. She became the states all-time winningest coach in 2010. The Crusaders enjoyed 921 victories in her 40-year coaching career. She was named the National Volleyball Coach of the year in 2007 and was a four-time Nebraska Coach of the Year.
Coach–How to build a successful track & field program within Nebraska high schools could have been a book written by this winning coach of Gothenburg High School. The cardinal & white Swedes won the Class B state track meet five times, in 1949, 1957, 1962, 1967 and 1971. No doubt the ability to inspire a united team effort was one of his coaching secrets. Dutch Zorn also led one of the best all-class football teams in history, leading the Gothenburg players on the gridiron to 1945 glory when they topped an undefeated season by beating Creighton Prep of Omaha, 27-21. His teams won championships in five different decades. The school annually hosts a track meet in his name. He and fellow 1994 inductee, Wayne Binfield of Scottsbluff, were honored by the Nebraska Coaches Association with an award in their name (Dutch & Binny Award) that bestows laurels for not just winning but for being an all-around coach.