The Hemingford Booster Club hosted the Hemingford High School Sports Banquet on Monday, May 16 at the Box Butte County Fairgrounds Multi-Purpose Hall.
Booster Club President Tonya Mayer introduced the evening’s guest speaker as Class of 1989 HHS graduate Joe Planansky.
As a Bobcat wrestler, he was undefeated and won the Class C Championship at 189 pounds. However, his success came from the football field. After his successful days playing football as Hemingford Bobcat, Planansky served four years as a starter at Chadron State College. In college, he was a three-time unanimous selection from all conferences and was chosen by teammates as the Eagles’ most valuable player as a junior and senior.
During his senior year, most NFL teams sent scouts to Chadron to check him out. He was invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis and signed a contract that spring with the Miami Dolphins in 1995. His NFL career ended in the fall of 1996 when he requested his release.
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Planansky took to the podium and admitted to being nervous to speak in front of the packed house.
He urged athletes and students to be great people.
“One of the sayings we have in our house is ‘Good is the greatest enemy of the great,'” Planansky said. “We have to know what it’s like to be a great person. The first thing you need to do to be a great person is figure out who you are. If you don’t know who you are, how could you be a great person?
“I’m going to tell an embarrassing little story,” he said. “I remember when I was a sophomore and we were playing Bayard football. I was a starting middle linebacker and I had friends who had graduated the year before that told me that when you were on the pitch you had to be loud. You have to make sure everyone knows where you are at and you have to intimidate people. So that whole game I was out there yelling and yelling and I was probably the biggest asshole on this pitch. I remember sitting in my room that night thinking that I was embarrassing myself, my family, my team and my city. I thought to myself that this would never happen again. If I want to be good at something, I’m going to let my actions on the pitch speak for me.
“Students today have a much harder time than we do,” Planansky said. “When we met people we didn’t like, we could go home and walk away from them; with social media, you can’t get away from it, so it’s a bit more difficult. But you have to work to be that great person. If there is trash in the hallway, pick it up. If you see someone having a tough day, talk to them. Don’t be the bully. Humility is one of the most important things you can be.
“Try to be that good teammate who encourages your other teammates; encourage them,” he said. “If you can encourage others, not only do they get better, but you get better and everyone wins.”
“I talk to parents, teachers, coaches as well as students,” Planansky said. “It’s difficult, but we can always be a little better. Nobody asks you to be perfect, but we can always be better.
He urged athletes and students to be an excellent student.
“Ten years from now, no one will know you played basketball, but the whole world will know if you were educated,” Planansky said. “Sport is short-lived. Go and consult an Olympic record book and tell me how many Olympic athletes are over 35; you’re not going to find many. You have a whole life after sports, so you better get an education and you better be a good student.
Finally, he urged them to be great athletes.
“You have a really unique experience here at Hemingford,” he said. “My daughter graduated from a high school with 2,500 students last year. She played on the varsity volleyball team where 42 tried out for the team. They didn’t have to eliminate a single person from this team. I have to guess nearby Hemingford High School has so many girls trying volleyball because you have the support around you. There are more people in this room right now than there would be at college volleyball games. So you have this unique experience of a community that loves you, supports you and follows you. I’ve always laughed and joked that if I was a nefarious character I would come and rob Hemingford at a Friday night football game because the whole town is at the game.
Hemingford senior Ethan Specht received the Bobcat 12 award for lettering in all three sports during his four years of high school.
The following is a list of students at Lettering Hemingford High School:
Gavin Bell – Track, Basketball, Cross County, One Act
Serenity Dillard – Cross County, One Act, Chorus
Cody Wales – Soccer, Basketball
Michael Helmink – Football, One Act
Aurora Hinman – Cross County, Wrestling, Track, Group
Boady Hunter – Cross Country, Track, Group
Madelyn Radspinner – Wrestling, One Act
Ramona Lee Ramos – Chorus
Nathan Randolph – Football, Wrestling, One Act
Elijah Walker – Soccer, Wrestling
Ariel Warner – Backing Vocals, Cheer
Aiden Benda – Football, Basketball
Jacob Ferguson – One Act
Isabell Gomez – Volleyball, Wrestling, Track, One Act, Group
Lilly Hassenhauer-Brown – One Act, Group
Savanna Hickman – One Act
Carlye Kresl – Cross Country, Track, One Act, Band
Mikayla Kumpf – Volleyball, Basketball
Madisen Meek – Cross Country, One Act, Speech, Band, Cheer
Ethan Plog – One Act, Group
Breana Specht – Volleyball, One Act, Cheer
Drew Varner – Cross Country, Golf, Wrestling, One Act
Brookelynn Warner – Volleyball, basketball, track
Karissa Christopherson – Volleyball
Catherine Bryner – Cross-country, basketball, track,
Avery Davies – Volleyball, Basketball
Caiden Hill – Basketball
Zane Hinman – Cross Country, Track
Jordan Hollinrake – Soccer
Taren Hunter – One Act, Speech
Arielle Lawrence – Speech, Acclamation
Hayden McDonald – Soccer
Brayden McGowan – Wrestling
Brinna Phillips – Volleyball, Cheering
Emma Roberts – Volleyball
Rick Turek – Football, Basketball
Kambree Walker – Volleyball, Basketball
Creel Weber – Wrestling
Rylie Wright – One Act, Cheer
Hunter Wyland – Soccer, Basketball, Track
Maslyn Yardley – Wrestling
Kamryn Ash – Basketball
Braden Christopherson – Cross Country
Destiny Hanson – Cross Country, Basketball, Track, Band, Chorus
Elizabeth Mayer – Volleyball, basketball, track, choir
Daren McConville – Soccer, Basketball, Golf
Sierra Miller – One Act
Sarina Radspinner – One Act, Chorus
Bayden Solberg – Soccer
Ethan Specht – Soccer, Basketball, Golf
Alysen Turek – Basketball
“Congratulations to all the athletes,” Mayer said. “The Boosters would also like to thank everyone for supporting the kids on and off the pitch, pitch and/or track, and of course a big thank you to the coaches for making a difference in our kids’ lives. .”
Coach Josh Dean announced the awards for the track team.
• Teammate of the Year was awarded to Elizabeth Mayer and Gavin Bell.
• Most Improved – Elizabeth Mayer with 11 personal bests and Cody Rathjen with eight personal bests.
• Outstanding Trackster – Catherine Bryner and Hunter Wyland earned the most points for their team
Coach Pete Gomez announced the awards for women’s wrestling.
• Best Record – Isabell Gomez
• Aurora Hinman – Intrepid Award
• Gomez recognized the other two team members: Madelyn Radspinner and Maslyn Yardley.
“The sky’s the limit with these ladies,” Gomez said. “There are no other girls wrestling in the Panhandle Conference, so all of these ladies are All-Conference Panhandle Conference.”
Coach Joe Collins announced some golf awards.
• Mr. Coherent – Was going to be Drew Varner but the districts the award went to Neo Powell
• Most Improved – Teagan Straub
• Most Valuable Golfer – Dax Powell
Cross Country Coach Jamie Clark presented the Cross Country Awards.
• Most Improved – Drew Varner and Serenity Dillard
• Team Captains – Carlye Kresl, Zane Hinman, Aurora Hinman
Coach Tamara Bila announced the incentive awards.
• The fieriest – Rylie Wright
• Most Perseverance – Ariel Lawrence
• Best Performance in Athletics – Breanna Specht
• Brightest Smile – Madi Meek
• Most Improved – Ariel Warner
• Best Leadership – Brinna Phillips, she was also announced as the cheering captain for next year.
Breana Specht has been recognized for having a 94% serve record in volleyball.
Jordan Hollinrake received the Champion of Character Award for football.