Coaches and administrators from Nebraska City High School and Lourdes Central Catholic visited with members of the public during NCTC’s Hot Topics event at Scooter’s Coffee on South 11th Street on Wednesday morning.
Lourdes Athletic Director Joe Tynon opened the talk by telling the audience about the new leaders in the Lourdes activities programs this year.
Gabe Rohde, a Twin River high school and Wayne State College grad, will be helping with the high school football and basketball programs while also leading the middle school football and basketball teams. He was an assistant at Burwell last year.
Ellen Wulf, a Lourdes grad, will teach science and also help with the track team. She was a college track athlete at Wayne State and Coach Tynon said she will be an asset, not only with track, but also with the strength and conditioning program at the school.
Kylie Hein, a Weeping Water graduate who worked as an assistant coach at Plattsmouth last year, will be an assistant with the high school volleyball team and will lead the middle school program.
Roxann Penfield isn’t a new addition at Lourdes.
She has been working there for over a decade. But Penfield will take on a new role in helping with the speech program this year.
Coach Tynon said all of the new Lourdes leaders wanted to be at the event Wednesday but couldn’t make it due to either practices or new employee training.
Nebraska City High School Athletic Director Matt Koehler was next up to speak at the event. Koehler introduced each of the new coaches in the Nebraska City school district and allowed them to speak about what was going on with their teams.
Kaleb Walker, a veteran of the school district, is taking on a new administrative position as the dean of students at the Nebraska City Middle School and will also help Koehler with athletic director tasks.
Dean Thompson, who is entering his third year in the district is stepping up from assistant boys’ basketball coach to take the head job.
Dan Hempel, the new NCHS football coach, was introduced along with Trevor Krenk, a native Nebraska Citian who will be helping with football.
Justin Parr, a Battle Creek native, was introduced as the new leader of the high school girls’ basketball team. And Justin Aaberg was introduced as a new leader within the NCHS speech program.
Hempel, who comes to Nebraska City after having coached as an assistant at Omaha North, Omaha Northwest and Omaha Bryan, said he likes the make up of the Nebraska City squad, noting that the Pioneers have offensive firepower and defensive toughness that will help them in the 2017 season.
Generating momentum will be the major goal of the program as Hempel looks to improve participation.
“Our goal is to get the kids passionate about the game of football,” said Hempel. “We are seeing new kids coming out daily. Getting kids interested in the game is key but keeping them interested by finding a role for each kid is going to be key throughout the season.”
Hempel said the Pioneers are going to focus on creating integrity within the program and noted that if the players are doing the right things on and off the field, wins will take care of themselves.
Coach Krenk echoed some of Hempel’s statements about creating interest and said the challenge will be to develop young athletes and change the culture of the program.
For Coach Thompson, the issue will be continuing to build upon what was started the last two years under Coach Scott Wissing.
“We are in a building process,” he said, noting that the NCHS program has good momentum going forward.
Generating momentum was also a key of Coach Parr’s talk. Although he didn’t get a chance to spend a lot of time with the girls’ basketball team over the summer months, Parr said his assessment of the team is that the Pioneers’ roster will feature underclassmen with a few solid leaders to build around.
The Nebraska City speech program has a lot to build upon.
Aaberg said he was a speech student in high school at Stanton and continued that involvement in college. He graduated in the spring of this year but has already had experience in coaching speech as a volunteer.
“I think it’s a real valuable activity for students,” he said, adding that the NCHS program has been successful. Aaberg said he is excited about helping the program add to its accomplishments.
Following the introduction of coaches, attendees were invited to ask questions to the guests.
One of the more interesting questions was on whether Nebraska City Public Schools would be interested in installing a drug testing system for the participants in its activities as some other schools have done.
Coach Koehler said the school has been monitoring the programs by other schools to see what outcomes and issues they might have. Discussions in Nebraska City have been undertaken but Coach Koehler said, ultimately, this would be a decision taken up by the school board.
Principal Brian Hoover said the drug issue is not as simple as determining positive results.
Hoover said thought should also be given to what happens after a positive and also on how the school can help guide students after a positive test.
Beyond general reports, attendees sought more information about Coach Walker’s new post as a dean of students. Walker said the position would be a new challenge. He said it’s bitter sweet since he has to give up coaching as an assistant with football. He will still be a high school track coach for the Pioneers. And, in some ways, will have much more influence on the programs at the high school.
Walker will function as a recruiter to get kids involved in the middle school activities and then will help with the transition process from middle school to high school athletics. Walker will also provide a bridge between middle school and high school coaches, thus increasing communication.
Discussions concluded with the coaches and administrators thanking NCTC for inviting them out to visit.