Official. Bill Lewis began officiating basketball in 1961 while he was in junior high school and rose to become the Nebraska School Activities Association’s Supervisor of Officials. An intramural referee at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Chadron State, he continued to officiate after becoming a teacher. He worked the state basketball tournament from 1975 to 1979 and 1983 to 1987, and worked state championship football games in 1977-1979. He was named NSAA assistant director and the supervisor of officials in 1988, conducting rules meetings, assigning officials for tournaments and playoffs, conducting camps and clinics and observing and evaluating officials. He retired in 2004.
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.
Coach–Creighton Preparatory High School, located in Omaha, has had a plethora of great coaches over the years, but none better at the game of football than Coach Leahy. 1955 would be but one good example. That fall the Bluejays compiled a record of eight wins, no losses and one tie, ending up ranked number one in the state in Class A. In a 17 year coaching career at Prep, Coach Don Leahy had 118 wins on the gridiron, just 25 losses and 7 ties. He had four unbeaten teams and annually kept Prep at the top of football ratings. Perhaps part of his keen understanding of the programs here is that he was himself an outstanding high school player during his own secondary education at Creighton Prep. His pass-run oriented teams woneight state championships.
A graduate of Marquette University, he was one of the top collegiate quarterbacks in the country and played in the Blue-Grey Game in 1951.
Leahy’s name was synonymous with Omaha sports for decades. Athletic director at both UNO & Creighton followed his illustrious high school career.
Athlete. 1964 graduate. Kurt Lauer enjoyed the best basketball season in Nebraska history, leading the Gibbon Buffaloes to their second straight state runner-up finish in the 1963-64 season. A 6-foot-8 post player and an outstanding shooter, he set the state record with 956 points (38.2 points per game). He scored 59 points in a single game, netted more than 50 points in five games that year and had six more games of 40 or more points. He established a career state tournament scoring record with 205 points (34.2 points per game). He finished his high school career with 2,247 points. He played collegiately for Nebraska and Hastings College.
Athlete—This 1923 graduate of North Platte High School was timed as the fastest sprinter in the world en route to becoming the world record holder in the 100 and 220 yard dashes. Imagine a runner with world-class speed in a high school football backfield. He led North Platte in 1921 to an unbeaten football season which brought the Platters acclaim as the state champion. Locke gets credit for scoring at least 12 touchdowns in North Platte‘s 176-0 win over Cozad in 1921. However; it was not until the mid-20’s when the “Gip” reached his full potential as a track man, helping the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers as team captain in 1925 and 1926. He competed in the days of hand-held stop watches being timed by some at 9.4 in the 100-yard dash and 20.5 in the 220 during the spring of 1926. He achieved his world records during a successful campaign on the international circuit. Later, he was named one of the outstanding lawyers in Lincoln so his old coach, Henry Schulte, must have been proud of his many successes, both on and off the cinder track. In high school, where his speed was first noticed, he was one of those athletes who rarely if ever lost a race. He set the state record in 1922 in the 220-yard dash.
Dave Lebsack earned the Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha World-Herald’s Athlete of the Year awards in 1962 after earning nine letters at Lincoln Northeast in football, basketball and baseball. An all-state quarterback, he led the Rockets to a 9-0 record and the state ratings championship in 1961. He started from the first game his sophomore year and had a reputation for being a ball-handling wizard. He also earned all-state honors in basketball where the Rockets won the Class A state title in 1962. Lincoln Northeast was 19-2 that year, losing two games Lebsack missed with a strained knee. He averaged 22.4 points per game in that state tournament. In baseball, Lebsack was known as an outstanding catcher.
Journal Star 4/6/2012
There were no clever nicknames for Dave Lebsack.
Not “Smoothy” or “Slick” or even “Lethal Lebsack.”
And there were certainly plenty of opportunities. Lebsack quarterbacked Lincoln Northeast to the 1961 Class A state football ratings championship (there were no playoffs until 1975), then helped the Rockets to the 1962 Class A state basketball title. He was all-state in both sports and earned Journal Star athlete of the year honors in 1962.
Lebsack, one of Lincoln’s most decorated athletes, died Tuesday at the age of 67. Memorial services will be Tuesday at 11 a.m. at St. David’s Episcopal Church.
“From the late ‘50s to the mid-‘60s, every kid in northeast Lincoln wanted to be Dave Lebsack,” said Jerry Motz, a longtime friend and teammate at Northeast. “I was one of his close friends and I wanted to be Dave Lebsack.”
Lebsack was a charter member of the Lincoln Northeast Athletic Hall of Fame, inducted in 1991, and he was inducted into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
Lebsack guided Northeast to a 9-0 record in football his senior year and was a three-year starter at quarterback. He missed the first four games of the basketball season (the Rockets went 2-2 without him) after an injury during football required surgery. The Rockets won 17 straight games after he came back to earn the title, with Lebsack averaging 22.4 points a game in the state tournament. He was also a standout catcher and earned all-city honors in baseball.
“I can see a gifted athlete who made sports look ever so easy, especially handling the football in a now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t fashion,” said Conde Sargent, who covered Lebsack’s career for the Journal Star and named him athlete of the year.
“His value to Northeast athletics was never more noticeable than his return from a football injury to the basketball court. With Dave, the Rockets stepped up a level and won the state championship. He lifted that team.”
Lebsack accepted a scholarship to play both football and basketball at Nebraska, but transferred to Nebraska Wesleyan during his sophomore year and graduated from there in 1969.
“He was a class act. He never left northeast Lincoln,” Motz said. “He’s an icon out here. He’s one of the people who laid the groundwork for all the rich tradition we had.
“He treated his opponents with respect. There was no trash talk. And in return, everyone respected him, too.”
Lebsack is survived by his wife of 47 years, Sharon, daughter Lindy and her husband Doug Bonnett, son Scott and his wife Christie, granddaughter Haley, and sister Donna Spence, all of Lincoln, and sister Judy and her husband Harlan Hoy of Waverly.
“He was very humble and shy. The only thing he cared about when he stepped on the field of endeavor was to win,” Motz said. “I’ve seen a lot of high school quarterbacks in this town, and there’s no one who was better.
“He wasn’t the fastest and he couldn’t jump the highest. All he did was win.”
Reach Ryly Jane Hambleton at 402-473-7314 or [email protected]
Athlete–Truly a man for all seasons, this 1920 graduate of Lincoln High School excelled in a variety of sports and vocations. All-state in football his junior and senior years, he also did well in basketball those years, helping the Links become state champions in an undefeated season on the hardwood in 1919-20. He did well as one of the champion participants during several track & field seasons.
Playing in college for the University of Nebraska, he was one of the Cornhuskers who defeated Notre Dame with their famed “Four Horsemen” in 1923. For several years he played professional football nine years with the Green Bay Packers. One of the great punters of the first half of the twentieth century, he completed his education to become an attorney and successful business executive.
Coach. Ted Larson’s teams were always on the run. As a head coach at Lincoln Southeast, Larson’s teams won 24 state championships from 1983 to 2001 – 13 in girls cross country, 10 in boys cross country and one in boys track. The girls cross country team put together a streak of nine straight state championships from 1989 to 1997. In 1992, the Knights boys and girls set scoring records at the state cross country meet, one of five years his teams won both state titles. The national Coach of the Year in 1995, he also coached two years at Lincoln East and two years at Waverly before moving to Southeast. After 2001, he became the first cross country coach at Lincoln Southwest, adding another conference championship (his 28th) and an individual state champion (his sixth) before retiring in 2008.
Coach–Near the top rank of high school basketball coaches in Nebraska, his 612 victories certainly illustrate the strength of his advice to young men on the hardwood. An early example came when he was coach of the Stanton High School Class C basketball varsity and had to devise a method of defending some of the best all-state players to date in that class at the state tournament. The boys from Stanton High won the 1964 Class C basketball championship by following his good advice by neutralizing 38-point a game scorer Kurt Lauer and Gibbon in the state tournament final. Twenty years later, Coach Fred Letheby was at the winning helm when Madison High School won the 1984 Class C1 state boys basketball championship.
Athlete. Millard North (1997)
Kelly Lindsey enjoyed a golden high school career in cross country and soccer. A Parade All-American, she led the Mustangs to the state soccer championship during her freshman and senior senior seasons, scoring 99 goals in her career. In cross country, she won the Class A gold medal three times – her bid to be a four-time state champion ended when with a rib injury halfway through the state meet race. She also lettered in basketball all four years for the Mustangs. A member of the under-20 national soccer team, she was a four-year starter at Notre Dame and went on to play professional soccer for three years. She has coached professional and college soccer teams.