Gene Haynes-Omaha North



He’s known as “Mr. North High,” Gene Haynes” larger-than-life presence as Principle of the school has emerged from his dedication to helping young people.  Using a humble, friendly demeanor and an infectious smile, Haynes has been a positive influence on Omaha Public Schools for more than 50 years.  “I just want to be someone to say, ‘I made a difference in the lives of the young people,” he told one news outlet.  A teacher, coach and administrator Haynes started at Omaha Technical High School in 1967.  Nebraska’s first African-American basketball coach, he coached the Trojans from 1972 until the school closed in 1984, winning the Metro Conference championships and nearly 60 percent of their games.  The Mississippi native has been honored with awards from many civic, community, educational and athletic organizations in the metropolitan area, and a portion of the street leading to Omaha North High School is named “Gene R. Haynes Street.”

Christina Houghtelling Hudson-Cambridge


Cambridge (Class of 2003)

Christina (Houghtelling) Hudson enjoyed the high school career of dreams. All-class all-state in volleyball and basketball, three all-class gold medals in track, superior ratings in music and class valedictorian, the 2003 Prep Athlete of the Year led Cambridge High School to the state volleyball and basketball tournaments while earning letters in all three sports for four years. Her legacy of honors continued at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she played an integral role in the Huskers’ four Big 12 championships and two Final Four appearances. Named the American Volleyball Coaches Association National Player of the Year as a junior, she was a two-time All-American and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.

Tom Heller-Kearney


Kearney High (Class of 1967)

Tom Heller was the epitome of the natural athlete. Name the sport, Heller, the 1967 Athlete of the Year, excelled. Bob Devaney once said he could have played all 22 positions at college football’s highest level. Heller was the first Kearney High football player to rush for 1,000 yards, earning all-state honors while leading the Bearcats to a 10-1 record. He also earned all-state honors in basketball and qualified for the state track meet in the hurdles. At Nebraska, he was a part-time starter as a defensive back and kick returner before leaving after his sophomore year to join the Navy. After his military service, he went on to coach in Colorado where he was a positive influence on many young athletes

Don “Tot” Holmes-Gothenburg



As the sports editor of the Tri-City Tribune, Don “Tot” Holmes used his story-telling skills and a fascination for statistics to develop the newspaper into the center of attention in Dawson County and the surrounding area. Focusing on the Southwest and Hi-Line Conferences, Holmes brought attention and notoriety to thousands of high school athletes. An avid sports fan, Holmes launched the Gothenburg Little League baseball program and was active in other youth programs. He also published comprehensive annual reviews of the Los Angeles Dodgers. An avid historian, he has written books covering 100-year histories of Gothenburg High School football and track.

Rick Hesse-Clearwater/Valentine

Rick Hesse put Clearwater on the map. Called a “true mentor” who taught life lessons along with basketball, Hesse built a dynasty that became the first school to win four consecutive boys’ basketball state championships from 1984-87. After 22 years at Clearwater, Hesse moved on to Valentine where he wrapped up his career with 440 wins and 12 state tournament appearances. Noted for rewarding positive actions with a wink or a smile and not raising his voice while correcting his players, he also coached Clearwater’s volleyball team for 10 years, leading the Cardinals to its first state tournament appearance.








Title IX and Pat Hoblyn arrived at Ansley High School at the same time, and they had an immediate impact. In her first year as the school’s volleyball coach, she led the Warriors to a 19-0 record and a state championship. She continued to coach the team for more than 40 years. At the time of her induction, she had celebrated five state championships, one runner-up finish and had compiled 681 victories and a .748 winning percentage. Her teams won 25 Loup Valley Conference titles and a total of 37 tournaments. In addition to coaching volleyball, she was head basketball coach for two years and coached boys and girls track for 17 years, winning a total of 13 conference championships and two girls’ state runner-up trophies.




Few teams have ever enjoyed the dominance of Coach Brad Hildebrandt’s Skutt Catholic wrestling teams. During his tenure from 1993 to 2015, he led the SkyHawks to a total of 20 state wrestling championships – 17 team titles and three dual championships. The run included 13 straight Class B titles from 1998-2010. After a runner-up finish in 2011, the SkyHawks embarked on another string of state titles that carried on beyond his retirement. An Omaha firefighter whose passion was coaching wrestling, Hildebrandt strived to use wrestling to prepare for life. His teams produced 63 individual champions, six high school All-Americans, 101 state medalists and 154 state qualifiers.

Jim Hartung – Omaha South

Athlete–Disciplined muscle strength is the essence of the difficult sport of gymnastics. Jim Hartung had it, really had it, perhaps like no other Nebraskan ever and few in the world during his athletic prime.  He completed his high school gymnastics career with 18 individual event championships and won the Nebraska School Activities Association all-around state championship from 1975 to 1977.  Omaha South won the state gymnastics championship each season Hartung competed.  At the University of Nebraska, he became only the second person in NCAA men’s gymnastics history to win seven individual titles in a career, including all-around NCAA champion in 1980 and 1981.  He was a record-setting 22-time NCAA All-American.  Nebraska also won team NCAA titles during the Hartung era. He achieved a boyhood dream and earned spots on the 1980 and 1984 United States Olympic teams, the latter winning the Gold Medal.

A Jim Hartung quote:

There have been a lot of highlights, but when I was twelve years old I watched the Olympics and I remember saying to myself, that looks pretty cool, I think I might like to do that. I decided that that was what I was going to do, and from the time I was about 14 or 15 I thought about the Olympics every day of my life.  Those other things, getting married and having kids, they weren’t lifelong goals, I guess I just figured down the road it was something I was going to do, but making the Olympics was something that motivated me every day of my life for a lot of years and I can’t think of anything else that’s made me feel anything like that.

From Omaha Sports Hall of Fame:

There are definitions that define athletes, however mere description does not begin to illustrate the impact Jim Hartung has on Nebraska gymnastics or the way in which his name has become synonymous with the sport in the state.  A standout from the time he entered Omaha South High School, Hartung would go on to become one of the greatest high school gymnasts ever, winning eighteen career individual championships, including three All-Around championships, while leading South High to state championship four straight years.

Upon entering the University of Nebraska in 1979, Hartung did not skip a beat, continuing to lead teams to championships and establishing himself as the best collegiate gymnast in the country.   Hartung led Nebraska to four straight national championships, during which time he was a twenty-two –time All-American, and won the NCAA All-Around titles in 1980 and 1981.  Titles in the Still Rings from 1980-82 and the Parallel Bars in 1981 and 1982 solidified Hartung’s status as the greatest gymnast in the history of the Cornhuskers.

After the 1980 season, Hartung was chosen to represent the United States in the Olympic Games; it was his performance on the 1984 squad, though, that made Hartung an international legend.  For the first time in Olympic history, the United States won a gold medal in gymnastics, with Hartung competing in the All-Around and placing ninth.  Hartung was also a member of three World Championship Teams for the United States, finishing his career with an amazing thirteen championship team titles.

Jim Hartung still holds the University of Nebraska records in the All-Around, Still Rings and the Pommel Horse, was the first Husker to win the Nissen-Emery Award for the nation’s best gymnast  and was elected to the Nebraska Sports High School Hall of Fame in 1993 and the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1997.  He currently is an assistant coach for the University of Nebraska and a gymnastics judge.

Other honors:

  • 1984 – Member of the United States Gold Medal Winning Gymnastics Team
  • 1980 and 1984 – Member of the United States Gymnastics Team
  • 1979-1984 – Member of Four National Championship Teams at Nebraska
  • 22-time NCAA All-American
  • 1980 and 1981 – NCAA All-Around Champion
  • 1980,1981 and 1982 – NCAA Still Rings Champion
  • 1981 and 1982 – NCAA Parallel Bars Champion
  • 1982 – Nebraska’s First Nissen-Emery Award Winner
  • 1994 – Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 1997 – USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame Inductee

Steve Hokuf – Crete

Athlete. An all-around athlete who stood out in football, basketball and track through high school and college, Hokuf was called “The greatest all-around Cornhusker of them all,” by Omaha World-Herald sports editor Frederick Ware. In high school, Hokuf was a two-time all-state selection in basketball and as an end in football. He also won the 1928 high school state pentathlon. At the University of Nebraska, he earned nine letters He was All-Big Six in football in 1929, 1930 and 1932 and was All-Big Six in basketball in 1931 and 1933. He earned All-American honors in 1933. He was the Big Six javelin champion in 1933. He played three years of professional baseball for the Boston Redskins and tried his hand at minor league baseball. He was an assistant football coach at Wyoming, Columbia and Pittsburgh universities before becoming head coach at Lafayette College and Baltimore Junior College. He has been inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Basketball Hall of Fame and the Maryland Football Hall of Fame. Deceased.

Bill Holliday – Wilsonville

Athlete–In 1960 at Wilsonville High School, this lanky high school athlete completed the highest scoring record in Nebraska high school history in the sport of basketball. He scored a total of 2,748 points and was picked as an all-state player three years running. He was all-state for three straight years. He was the state’s leading scorer in 1959 (890).  He averaged 27.9 points per game his senior year, 31.8 as a junior, 33.4 as a sophomore.  Wilsonville played in two state tournaments in his time. His enthusiasm for and talent in athletics continued thereafter, leading Aurora High School to the 1976 State Championship as their basketball coach. He also mastered volleyball officiating, becoming the best in the state for a period of time and was chosen many times to work the state tournament.