Ritch Bahe – Fremont

HOFAthlete, 1971. The 1971 Fremont graduate picked up seven varsity letters in high school, two in football, three in basketball and two in track.  Football honors included All State twice and All Conference twice, 1969 to 1970, and in 1970 was selected High School American both academic and athletic. Football found him running, catching, kicking field goals and playing defense. In basketball, he was twice All State honorable mention and twice All Conference.  In track , won the All Class Gold Medal in the 400 yard dash with a time of 49.6 (pre metric) in the 1971 State Track Meet.  In 1971 he was selected as runner-up High School Athlete of the Year selected by both the Lincoln Journal Star and the Omaha World Herald.  University of Nebraska football, three letters.  He started as wingback in 1973 and moved to split end in the ’74 season and led the team in receiving yardage.  Selected Academic All Big 8 receiver in 1973. Drafted by the St Louis Cardinals in 1975, but due to a back injury couldn’t pass the physical.  Now a CPA, he lives and works in Lincoln.

Don Lee – Omaha

Contributor. The contribution sportswriters make to the understanding and enjoyment of high school athletics is immeasurable. One of the best was Don Lee, who spent 44 years covering sports as a reliable scribe for the Omaha World-Herald newspaper. He was present for 35 consecutive state basketball tournaments and 35 state track meets. Though his talents extended to the occasional coverage of college sports as well as golf, boxing, horse racing, figure skating and hockey, his close ties with Nebraska high school sports remained paramount. He was very familiar with the vanishing numbers of high schools and the consolidation movement and he made sure that the small town teams as well as the metropolitan giants received proper and frequent coverage.


Chuck Mizerski – Lincoln Southeast

2010Coach. Chuck Mizerski masterminded a football powerhouse at Lincoln Southeast from 1979 to 2006. In that time, the Knights won 230 games, six state championships and three state runner-up trophies. He also coached at Plattsmouth and Granite City, Ill., compiling a career 274-81-1 record. A half dozen of his players went on to play in the NFL. Held in high esteem by students, parents and colleagues, his teams were always well-prepared, competed with great intensity and exhibited the highest level of sportsmanship. Twice nominated for National Coach of the Year honors, Mizerski coached in two Shrine Bowls and earned coach of the year awards from three major Nebraska media outlets.

Phyllis Rice-Honnor – Centennial

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.

 

C. Dale Snook – Lincoln University High School

inducteeCoach.

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.

Kelli Benson Jeffries – Grand Island

2009Athlete. Class of 1980. Kelli (Benson) Jeffries was not a stranger to the state tournaments, or state championships. She was the Class A high jump champion and an all-state volleyball player who helped her Grand Island team to a state runner-up finish her junior year. In basketball, she started every game on Grand Island’s state runner-up team as a sophomore, then led the Islanders to a 21-0 state championship year as a junior. She averaged 20.7 points per game as a senior while being named the captain of the Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha World-Herald all-state teams. She also earned high school All American honors and played in the first Nebraska Coaches Association All-Star Girls Basketball Game, a game she would later return to as a coach, coaching her daughter, in 2007. She played for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, starting 87 of 118 games in her college career. She led her team in field-goal percentage and graduated as the second-best shooter in school history, making just over 50 percent of her field goals (.511).

 

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GRAND ISLAND INDEPENDENT PREP SPORTS

By Terry Douglass
terry.douglass@theindependent.com

Published: Friday, October 2, 2009 10:04 AM CDT

 

Kelli (Benson) Jeffries doesn’t consider her induction into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame an individual honor.

Far from it.

“It’s a big honor for me, but the other part of that is a lot of other people went into that,” said Jeffries, a former Grand Island Senior High three-sport standout, who is now the Islanders’ girls golf and girls basketball coach. “To me, it’s a team honor. A lot of great people along the way helped in this.”

For Jeffries, this year’s induction into the Nebraska High School Hall of Fame came as a bit of a surprise.

“I always just thought that’s what happens to old people,” Jeffries said, smiling. “But it’s a nice honor. The last couple of months, I’ve heard a lot of I-remember-when stories, so it’s been kind of fun talking with people and getting to reminisce about what happened.

“I guess it’s one of those things where you find out when you grow older just how special it really is.”

During her high school career, Jeffries and her Islander teams were regular fixtures in state championship events. She was the Class A high jump champion and an all-state volleyball player who helped her Grand Island team to a state runner-up finish her junior year, but basketball was her best sport.

Jeffries started every game on Grand Island’s state runner-up basketball team as a sophomore and led the Islanders to a 21-0 state championship year as a junior. She averaged 20.7 points per game as a senior, while being named the captain of the Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha World-Herald all-state teams.

In addition, Jeffries earned high school All-America honors and played in the first Nebraska Coaches Association all-star girls basketball game — a game she would later return to as a coach, coaching her daughter, Johnna Jeffries, in 2007.

In college, Kelli Jeffries played for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, starting 87 of 118 games in her college career. She led her team in field-goal percentage and graduated as the second-best shooter in school history, making just over 50 percent of her field goals (.511).

“Obviously, I’m kind of a hometown girl — grew up here in Grand Island and came back here — and always wanted to play at Nebraska,” Jeffries said. “In fact, I went to Nebraska not even knowing who my head coach would be because they were in the middle of a coaching change, but that really didn’t matter to me.

“That’s just where I knew I wanted to be and it ended up being a great experience and a lot of fun.”

Jeffries said that of all her sports memories, winning a state basketball title tops the list. Jeffries said she and her teammates continue to share a special bond — they still get together every year — and she credits former coach Ed Bills for much of her team and individual success.

“Ed is just a great guy,” Jeffries said. “He was instrumental in a lot of things that happened for me.”

Jeffries enjoyed athletic success despite not playing in organized sporting events until her sophomore year of high school. However, she said she honed her skills while playing against boys in pick-up games.

“There just weren’t many girls playing organized ball then because it was such a new thing for girls, but it was just a passion for me,” Jeffries said. “I just loved it and couldn’t do enough of it.”

Grand Island Senior High activities director Joe Kutlas said Jeffries has carried the same traits that made her a successful player into her coaching career.

“Kelli is caring and compassionate and provides a great experience for her student-athletes,” Kutlas said. “She works hard at it and does everything first-class and is a genuine pleasure to work with. Kelli is a true Islander — she bleeds purple.”

Jeffries said many things about the game of basketball have changed since she played. However, she said the formula for success remains the same.

“We had a group of girls who really wanted to win and worked their tails off,” Jeffries said. “Really, that’s what it’s all about. The same thing goes now: If I can get a competitive group of kids who work hard, I think we’re going to be pretty good.”