Ranked fifth nationally among high school football coaches in 2004 with a 328-117-29 record over 52 seasons. A Kearney native who excelled in sports in high school and at Kearney State, he coached Fullerton in 1925, St. Paul from 1926 to 1929 and Norfolk from 1929 to 1938 before spending his final 40 years in Denver high schools. His St. Paul teams were Class A boys basketball champions in 1928 and 1929. He has been inducted in the Kearney High, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Colorado High School and National High School Halls of Fame.
Panek set bar at Denver East . Hall of Famer led teams during terms of 10 U.S. presidents
By Clay Latimer, Rocky Mountain News October 15, 2004
Pat Panek coached his first high school football game when Calvin Coolidge was president and his last one during Jimmy Carter’s administration. In all those years, he rarely lost his magic touch, finishing with 328 wins, including time in Nebraska. ]
Panek enjoyed his greatest success at Denver East, winning 16 city championships and two state titles. But his impact transcended Xs and Os, says one of his former players, Chris Babbs, now headmaster at Colorado Academy.
“He was tremendously dedicated to working with young people and in high school sports,” Babbs said. “It wasn’t just football; he also coached JV basketball, American Legion baseball. He coached year-around.
“He was kind of gruff, but underneath it all was somebody who was always rooting for you, always trying to help you out. After we graduated, he’d invite us over to his house and we’d go over and watch game film.”
Forced into retirement by Denver Public Schools because of his age, Panek won two Metro League titles at Machebeuf. His 53-year career is second only to Amos Alonzo Stagg’s mark of 57 years.
He has been selected to the National Federation of State High School Associations Hall of Fame (1995), the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame (1976), the Colorado High School Activities Association Hall of Fame (1991), the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame (2004) and the University of Nebraska-Kearney Athletic Hall of Fame (1980).