Coach. An all-around athlete at Omaha Central, Fred lettered in football, wrestling and tennis. During those years Central won the state meet in wrestling and tennis for four years and he won the gold medal in his weight class one year. After high school graduation in 1946, he spent two years in the Marine Corps. During his tour of duty with the Corps, he won the All-Pacific wrestling championship and the Marine-Navy singles tennis championship on Guam, plus wrestling four months at the Naval Academy at Annapolis On returning to civilian life, he enrolled at UNO where he lettered four years in tennis, was team captain 3 years, and had a record 143-5 in singles and 49-4 in doubles and was undefeated in 1950. He coached the UNO team for one year while working on his master’s degree. Along with Charlie Mancuso, Fred was instrumental in getting the wrestling program started at UNO. Hired at Omaha Benson, he was there for 38 years, coaching tennis for 35 years, coaching wrestling for five years, plus 20 years of freshman-reserve football coaching. A long time wrestling official, he was elected to the Nebraska Scholastic Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame as a charter member in 1982. He was also selected to the Nebraska Tennis Hall of fame, Benson High Hall of Fame, Metro Conference Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame, Metro Tennis Coaches Hall of Famc, and the UNO Wrestling Hall of Fame. Beyond his high school activity, Fred also ran the city and state tennis tournaments and was Omaha City Tennis Director for 20 years.
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.
Athlete. One of the few big men in the state in his day at 6’8’, Bus Whitehead graduated from Scottsbluff High School in 1945. An outstanding senior year contributed to a trip to Lincoln for the Class A State Basketball Championship. One of the few losses for the season was in the finals when Scottsbluff lost to Creighton Prep. Actively recruited by a number of major universities, he selected the University of Nebraska. His improvement as a college player was beyond expectations: during both his junior and senior years he was selected to the All Big 7 team. As a senior, he was the only unanimous selection to the All Big 7 team. In both of his last two years Nebraska was a Conference Co-Champion. Bus graduated from Nebraska holding seven Nebraska scoring records and was selected as a District 5 All American, and later was selected to the All-Time University of Nebraska Basketball Team. Played in College All-Star East –West game at Madison Square Garden. Outstanding player for the Phillips 66 Oilers in the National Industrial League. Nebraska Basketball Hall of Fame, Lincoln Journal Star Hall of Fame, and the Scottsbluff Hall of Fame. Longtime Lincoln resident Bus and his wife Ruth have three children and five grandchildren.
Coach–Like the trace of the old Oregon Trail, the impact of this champion coach is still felt across Western Nebraska. For four decades of the twentieth century, his high school athletes left a lasting place in the record books. During the fall of the great crash of 1929, this then young coach inspired his Crawford football team to charge through all of their Class C opponents for an undefeated season and #1 ranking. In his subsequent tenure as Alliance football coach, the Bulldogs won state title ranking in both 1933 and 1941. In the category of coaching legend were his efforts as track & field coach at Scottsbluff High School. Under his tutelage, the swift Bearcats won four Class A titles at the state track meets of 1950, 1953, 1964 and 1968. In addition, he coached three state championships cross country teams in 1960, 1961 and 1967. Altogether, 10 state titles were earned during his illustrious career. Binfield was a wily man, noted for down-home humor and successful tactics. You could expect a Binfield team to compete just as well in nasty spring weather as on a sunny day. He and fellow 1994 inductee, Dutch Zorn of Gothenburg, received a great honor from the Nebraska Coaches Association, which formed an award in their name (Binny & Dutch Award) that bestows laurels for not just winning but for being an all-around coach and person. Today an annual track meet hosted at Bearcat Stadium bears his name, bringing continuing reminders of this fine coach.
Athlete. A prep All-American in football in 1959, John Kirby earned all-class and Class C all-state honors in football his junior and senior years. In 1960, Kirby was a Shrine Bowl captain. He also started for two years on the David City St. Mary basketball team that in those two seasons accumulated a record of 34-8. In track Kirby scored in five events at the state track meet. In 1960, he had the best discus throw in the state in all classes. Kirby chose to play football for the Nebraska Cornhuskers and was a 1963 captain. In 1964 he played in the Senior Bowl game and was selected in the fifth round of the NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings. After playing with the Vikings from 1964 to 1968, Kirby played for the New York Giants from 1969 to 1971
Athlete. A three sport athlete at Lincoln High, Bernie was an all-state back in football, a starter on the 1930 state championship basketball team and a track star. Moving on to UNL, he starred from 1931 to 1933 as a back on three straight unbeaten Big Six championship teams. He was selected All-Big Six in 1933. He played quarterback for the Chicago Bears from 1934 to 1940 when the Bears were known as the “Monsters of the Midway.” During his pro career, the Bears were 59-19-3 and were in three NFL championship play offs. Bernie has an NFL career total of 3,372 passing yards and 35 touchdowns. He came back to Nebraska as head football coach in 1940 for two years. Bernie was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 1977.
Nebraska high school’s athlete of the year in 1980, he was a three-sport prep standout whose fourth – and best sport – baseball, took him to the 1982 College World Series and the 1983 Pan American Games. Drafted by the Texas Rangers, he was All-American in baseball in 1985. At Aurora, Penner quarterbacked a Husky team that went undefeated in the regular season and first playoff appearance in 1979, then he earned all-class all-state honors in basketball as the Huskies went 22-3 and reached the state tournament semifinals in 1980. At the state track meet, he placed third in the 100 in 1980 and ran on school-record setting 400- and 1,600-meter relay teams.
Perhaps Nebraska’s most recognized basketball referee, Rudy Stoehr was often at the center of many state championships. A football referee as well, Stoehr officiated Nebraska high school basketball from 1963-89, working more than 1,000 games and more than 20 state tournaments. He also officiated in the Big Eight Conference for six years. An outstanding basketball and baseball player at Lincoln Northeast and Nebraska Wesleyan (he set a single-season scoring record with 746 points, including 62 in one game). Stoehr played minor league baseball before an arm injury forced him to return to Nebraska to coach and officiate.
As Omaha South’s gymnastics coach from 1967 to 1988, Rich Beran coached Olympians Jim Hartung and Phil Cahoy (Hall of Fame inductees, too) among his 64 individual state champions. His boys teams won seven state titles and 12 Metro Conference titles and had a 158-27 dual meet record. His girls teams won two state invitational titles and two Metro titles. He is a 1962 graduate of Omaha Central.
Inducted with officiating partner, Dan Newmyer.
They officiated together for 40 years, so they will be inducted into the Hall of Fame together. They began officiating basketball while students at Doane College in the late 1940s and they retired in the late 1980s. They began officiating football games with Hall of Fame referee Dick Thompson in 1956. They officiated at the state basketball tournament from 1964 to 1968 and refereed the 1984 Shrine Bowl football game. They also worked many state football playoffs and small-college games.