Beatrice (Class of 1972)
Walter Harrison (Ben) Plucknett, a four-year letterman in football and track at Beatrice High School and the all-class gold medalist in the shot put and discus throw in 1972, developed into the premier discus thrower in the world. At the University of Missouri, “Big Ben” won three Big Eight Championships before moving into the international competition. He qualified for the 1980 Olympic team, but was denied the opportunity to compete by the Olympic boycott. In 1981, Plucknett continued to compete internationally, and his mark of 237’4” was ratified as a North American record.
Laura (Pilakowski) Buttermore excelled on every field and court. The first female four-year, three-sport letterman at Columbus High School, she earned all-state honors in volleyball and basketball and qualified for the state track meet all four years. The consensus 1999 Female Athlete of the Year, she was the Nebraska Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year as a senior, averaged a double double on the basketball court her junior and senior years and won the long jump gold medal as a sophomore. At Nebraska, she became a two-time volleyball All-American, helping lead the Huskers to the national championship in 2000. She finished her career playing on the Husker women’s basketball team.
Jim Paige spent more than 50 years calling fouls and penalties in football, basketball and track at Nebraska high school athletic events. Described as “quiet, unassuming and hard-working,” Paige displayed a respect for athletes and coaches while maintaining fairmindedness in the implementation of the rules. Selected as the Nebraska Football Official of the Year, Paige worked a handful of state football championships as well as several state basketball tournaments. Primarily a starter in track and cross country, Paige has been a triple jump official at the state track meet for more than 30 years. In addition to being an active official, Paige has mentored dozens of young referees, bringing quality to the ranks of the profession. He has also been an observer and evaluator of officials for the NSAA.
No one could account for all the athletes and students who have benefitted from the unselfish contributions Mike Purdy has made to their lives. A coach and administrator in the middle school and high school ranks for more than 40 years, Purdy pioneered and promoted programs and activities that made interscholastic activities in Nebraska a better place. Throughout a career centered on the interests of all students and athletes, Purdy developed scholarship programs, promoted sportsmanship summits and awards, supervised sporting events of every description and fostered an atmosphere of cooperation among organizations supporting athletics. A leader among his peers, Purdy earned Distinguished Service Awards from the Nebraska and National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Associations.
A past chairman of the Metro Conference, Purdy is the NSIAAA’s Executive Director. Mike retired from Bellevue East in 2004.
Coach. After serving in the US Navy and completing college studies, George Pfeifer came “home” to Boys Town, his alma mater, early in the 1950’s and enjoyed an outstanding head coaching career in basketball and track, and helped with football. His Cowboy basketball teams won the Class A state championship in 1965 and 1966 and his track team was the Class A 1954 champ. He was also the No. 2 man on the Boys Town staff when the school won 1956 and 1957 basketball titles. His track programs turned out some great runners, among them Hall of Fame inductees Charles Jones and Barney Hill. He served as Boys Town’s junior high principal and the school’s athletic director for many years. Graduated in 1944 from Boys Town and earned degrees from Fort Hays State and University of Nebraska-Omaha.
Contributor. Louise Pound was a pioneer among women athletes in the state of Nebraska, enjoying much success during her high school age years although never participating in structured high school athletics. Tennis and golf were her top sports, but she gained acclaim in figure skating, skiing, cycling, basketball, swimming, riding and bowling. She was captain of the University of Nebraska basketball team. She was Lincoln’s best woman golfer for more than 20 years and in 1916 was the first state women’s golf champion. In tennis, many of her championships came against all comers, including men. At one time, she was the top-ranked amateur tennis player in the country. During her 50 years as a professor at the University of Nebraska, she was a staunch advocate of increased opportunities in athletics for females. Deceased.
Official. It is enough said, perhaps, that Vern Plambeck has officiated high school sports since 1954. That’s six decades, and it would have been continuous except for a 1957 Army tour of duty. In the whistle-blowing fraternity, he developed into one of the best — calling seven state basketball tournaments, including the 1973 Class A boys championship game; officiating 33 football playoff games since 1976, including the first overtime game played in Nebraska (Nov. 12, 1976, Wheatland 38, Hampton 32, Class D championship game). He worked the Coaches Association All-Star Basketball and Shrine Bowl All-Star Football games. He has served the NSAA as a basketball observer starting in 1990, and did the proofreading in 1999 of the National Federation of State High School Association football rulebook and other publications. Hastings High School graduate. College degrees: Hastings College, University of Nebraska. Lives in Kearney, retired professor of English.
Athlete. A 1982 graduate of Bellevue East, Parker excelled at football where he lettered for three years for the Nebraska Cornhuskers and was an Associated Press All-American Honorable Mention in 1986. At Bellevue East he excelled in wrestling and track as well, going undefeated (25-0) in wrestling in 1982 and winning the state championship. He also won the Class A discus in 1981. His throw of 191 feet, 2 inches topped the all-time charts at the time, and his throw of 194-1 in 1982 was the second-longest throw in the nation that year. He was drafted in the ninth round of the NFL draft by the New York Giants.
Puetz compiled a 236-96-6 record coaching football for 34 years, 31 at Columbus Scotus. His teams won state championships in 1984 and 1993. A track coach from 1968 to 1993, his teams won two state championships, two state runner-up trophies, 18 district championships and 19 conference championships.
Contributor. Park served as the Director of Athletics and Activities at Millard North from 1981 to 1995, overseeing 21 varsity sports and numerous junior varsity, sophomore and freshman programs. He developed the entire budget, ordered all equipment and uniforms and oversaw the construction and rental of the school’s athletic facilities. He also developed the schedules and transportation for all teams and developed the coaches’ handbook. He was also a regular on hosting, volunteering and supporting Nebraska School Activities Association functions.