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.

Mel Harder – Omaha Tech

Athlete. A Nebraska native, born in Beemer, this noted baseball pitcher grew up in Omaha and attended Omaha Technical High School during the 1920s. He was a terror in baseball, basketball and football at Omaha Tech, but he always thought of himself as a baseball player. During  the late ’20s he signed with the Cleveland Indians and began making a name as a dependable pitcher. He won 223 games in the majors, including five 20-game seasons for the Indians. Of special interest is his great record in baseball’s All-Star games, pitching 13 perfect innings, no hits and no runs allowed. Beginning in 1955, young baseball players in the Omaha could play in the Mel Harder League, a fitting reminder of this fine athlete.

Nickname(s): Chief, Wimpy 1909-2002

All-Star in 1934-37
IP W-L ERA Career 3426 223-186 3.80       Wins-Losses Winning % Manager 0-1 .000

Only Bob Feller won more games for the Indians than Mel Harder, who spent 36 years with the club as a pitcher and coach. His 582 appearances and 186 losses set Cleveland records. Only Walter Johnson and Ted Lyons pitched more seasons with one club than Harder’s 20 with Cleveland. Harder pitched the first game ever in Cleveland Municipal Stadium, losing 1-0 to Philadelphia’s Lefty Grove on July 31, 1932.

Nearsighted, Harder wore thick glasses. Joe DiMaggio said that he gave him more trouble than just about any pitcher, wasting his fine curveball outside, then coming in tight with the fastball. Harder held DiMaggio to a .180 average against him lifetime, and struck him out three times in a 1940 game.

By today’s rules, Harder would have been the ERA leader in 1933, when he posted a 2.95 mark. But he was a .500 pitcher until 1934, when he went 20-12. He followed with a 22-11 season, but came down with bursitis in his shoulder and a sore elbow. He nevertheless won an average of 15 games a season from 1936 through 1940. He was released late in 1941, but was given another chance after having elbow surgery. Though he won 47 more games over the next six seasons, he did not regain his old form.

Harder is the only pitcher to work 10 or more All-Star innings without allowing an earned run. Though overshadowed by Carl Hubbell, he won the 1934 All-Star Game, finishing it with five shutout innings. Using today’s standards, he would have been awarded saves in the 1935 and 1937 contests.

Harder became one of the first coaches to be exclusively a pitching coach, and lasted through 12 Cleveland managers. Under Harder, seven different Indians won 20 games, for a total of 17 times. Two others led the AL in wins with fewer than 20. He was credited with changing Bob Lemon from a poor-hitting infielder to a Hall of Fame pitcher. He left Cleveland in 1964, going on to coach for the Mets, Cubs, Reds, and Royals through 1969.

Bill Hawkins – Beatrice

2013 InducteeAthlete Class of 1952

Bill Hawkins lived the life of a schoolboy superstar, graduating from Beatrice High School with four-year school scoring records in football, basketball and track. A high school All-American in football, he averaged just under 10 yards per carry his senior year. All-conference in basketball, he averaged more than 17 points per game as a senior. And in the 1952 state track meet, he completed his “Athlete of the Year” season by putting on a one-man show winning all-class gold medals in both hurdles races, winning the Class A shot put, tying for first place in the high jump and finishing second in the long jump. The state selective pentathlon champion, he went on to letter three years in football and track for the Nebraska Cornhuskers.


Bob Hohn – Beatrice

Athlete. This 1960 graduate of Beatrice High School earned all-state honors in football and basketball his junior and senior years plus winning four all-class gold medals in track and setting a state record in the 180 low hurdles. A member of the 1959 Class A state basketball championship team, he received further honors, being selected to the all-tourney team. His final high school honor was being selected as Athlete of the Year by both the Omaha World-Herald and the Lincoln Journal. He was chosen offensive player of the game in the 1960 Shrine Bowl after scoring three touchdowns for a total of 171 yards. He played football at UNL from 1962 to 1964 and was co-captain his senior year. Bob played on Bob Devaney’s first three bowl teams. He went on to play professional football and was starting left cornerback for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1965 to 1970.  In 2000, he was selected to Beatrice High School’s All Century Basketball Team.

Sunday May 12, 2002
Ex-player Bob Hohn fights ALS
By Michael Kelly , World-Herald Columnist

Bob Hohn remembers trying to tackle Jim Brown, the greatest running back of them all. His memory is helped by watching Jim Brown highlights on television – one as recently as two weeks ago.

Hohn, the 1960 Nebraska high school athlete of the year and a 1964 Husker football co-captain, played defensive back for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On a first-and-10 play, he slammed into Brown two yards behind the line of scrimmage, hoping to throw him for a loss. When the play ended on the sideline, a dazed Hohn looked up and saw that he was two yards past one of the yard markers – and wondered how Brown could have dragged him four yards.

To his further surprise, he saw officials move the yard markers – it was a first down. Brown had gone more like 14 yards.

“It’s just embarrassing,” Hohn says all these years later, a hint of whimsy in his voice.

Through difficult days, Hohn tries to maintain a sense of humor. A guy who once was run over by a horse named Jim Brown is now fighting the disease that felled the “Iron Horse,” baseball great Lou Gehrig.

Hohn has ALS – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – a motor neuron disorder known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

If it’s ironic that even great athletes aren’t immune from a disease that robs its victims of muscle control, Bob Hohn says it’s terrible no matter whom it strikes – athlete or not.

He says matter-of-factly, not in self-pity: “You just sit there and watch yourself go away.”

But he’s not a recluse. Every week at Brewsky’s in Lincoln, he meets with friends for “Mondays with Bob,” a takeoff on the book “Tuesdays with Morrie.”

The number attending has ranged from seven to 27. Hohn has many friends from his days as an athlete and a businessman.

Bobby Hohn of Beatrice High, where he won 11 varsity letters, had a storied athletic career. His low-hurdles record stood for 16 years. He was a three-time state gold medalist in track.

At Nebraska, his 53-yard interception return helped beat Kansas. He played five years in the National Football League.

He’s enjoyed a career as a mortgage banker. He and his wife, Sandy, have two grown children and three grandchildren.

The Hohns’ lives changed in May 1999, when he was diagnosed with ALS.

“The first symptoms were that my legs kind of tingled,” he said. “Then I started getting cramps, and grew weaker and weaker.”

Says Sandy: “The disease is horrible, much worse than anyone can imagine. I have seen my husband, a wonderful athlete and proud person, reduced to indignity and humiliation beyond description.”

On June 17, the ALS Association is sponsoring its first Bob Hohn Celebrity Golf Tournament as a fund-raiser for research. Hohn’s former Husker teammate Frank Solich and his wife, Pam, are co-chairmen.

Among those scheduled to attend the event at Quarry Oaks, near Mahoney State Park, are Tom Osborne, Eric Crouch, Scott Frost and Tommie Frazier. Openings are still available at (402) 991-8788.

Bob Hohn says he never questioned why he was blessed with athletic ability, and he’s never questioned why he was stricken with ALS. He says he thinks a cure will come some day.

His body weakened, he is using his strength of character and mind to tackle a deadly disease.