Gene Suhr is going to the 20th annual High School Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Lied Center in Lincoln.
He is going to the ceremony Sept. 15 as one of four coaches to be inducted into the hall of fame this year…and to watch his daughter be inducted as one of ten athletes to receive the honor. An official and two contributors round out the 2013 inductees.
The Suhrs will be the first father-daughter members of the hall of fame. They will enter together.
“The induction into the hall of fame is very neat,” said Gene. “But to go in with my daughter is one of the neatest things I have experienced in my life. I actually feel like I am going in on her shirttails.”
Gene, a 1967 Creighton High School graduate, enlisted in the Army after a short time as a college football player. He returned to college at the University of Nebraska at Omaha after his military service.
He is the owner of an impressive coaching resume with 200 wins to his credit. He started his coaching career with a three-year stint as assistant football coach at Omaha Gross. His teams went 25-21 during the five years he was head coach at Ord.
He spent 22 years as head coach at Papillion/LaVista High School, leading his team to 175 wins, two state titles and three state runner-up seasons. His team qualified for state playoffs 20 times.
Gene finished his career with four years as offensive coordinator at Wayne State College after he and his wife, Anne (Gragert), moved back to their hometown of Creighton. He retired two years ago.
Gene accumulated a number of awards over the years. He was named an assistant coach for the 1987 Nebraska Shrine Bowl and head coach in 1992. The Omaha World Herald and the Lincoln Journal Star both named him high school coach of the year in 1997. He also received the Omaha Press Club Distinguished Coach Award that year. He was named Omaha Metro Coach of the Year three times.
During those 22 years at Papillion, Gene’s daughters, Stephanie and Leigh, were growing up. Both were born during his time at Ord. Leigh became an acclaimed athlete in her own right. Her venue of choice was the ball diamond.
The 1998 graduate of Papillion High School was the first four-time recipient of the Nebraska School Activities Association’s Academic All-State Award, in softball, and in 1998, was awarded the honor in basketball. She was named Nebraska High School Gaterade Player of the Year; was the first female at her school to earn 12 varsity letters, four in softball, four in basketball, one in track and three in soccer; was a four-year starter and letterman in softball at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; and is the only hall of fame inductee this year to be inducted in her first year of eligibility.
She teaches English and is the head softball coach at Omaha South. She is also an assistant soccer coach.
Stephanie’s interests didn’t lie in sports. Her dad said she was more inclined toward academics. A UNO graduate, she is a runner, but is more involved in the fitness aspect than competition. She is also an English teacher, teaching at Gretna. She has an eight-year-old daughter, Ella.
Gene and Anne have done some travelling in the two years since his retirement, and he wrote a book, “First Downs and Touchdowns,” about calling football plays. He exercises regularly, reads and does some fishing. He said he plans to golf this summer and is anxious to get on the greens. He is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and made a successful bid for the Creighton Community School Board in the last election. He was sworn in at the board’s January meeting.
Gene’s mother, Betty Suhr, still lives in Creighton, as does his brother, Richard Suhr. His father died three years ago.