News That Matters To Antelope County - Your News. Your Way. Every Day!
© Pitzer Digital, LLC
By Daniel Dunn
In 1979 I was hired as a teach of science, assistant football coach, assistant basketball coach, and senior sponsor. I was fresh out of college and at the age of 21 started my teaching and coaching career in the village of Orchard, Nebraska. My wife, DiAnn, and I rented the house next door to the Conoco gas station owned by Tony Pruss. I have just completed 40 years of teaching and coaching. 37 of those years as a college coach and professor. For my first 3 years I taught and coached at Orchard High School. Below is what I learned and it has carried me throughout my career.
Leadership – My first boss was Marj Wagner. After 40 years of bosses she was the best. She was passionate, caring and patient. By listening and observing I learned how to treat others with respect and grace. Al Schlueter showed me how to lead by his example and his unique way of bringing everyone together and working toward a common goal.
Servanthood – I learned servanthood from Larry Mieras. Larry would do anything and everything for anyone. He loved students and made it his life’s passion to help them find their way in life.
Dedication – The person I learned dedication from is Bill Tabbert. Bill loves Orchard and he was a great teacher and coach. Bill was an educator who helped students realize their dreams to build with their minds and hands. Bill was a coaching lifer and helped me shape who I am as a coach.
Hard Work – I watched this young man work as hard or harder than any athlete I have ever coached. There are many examples of this throughout my 3 years at Orchard. I admired this young man for his willingness to never give up and give every ounce his body could produce. Lee was my first of many. The pay Wayne Schacht gave me that day for the basketball lesson with his son was worth more than money: Nebraska beef. I have looked for the character qualities and work ethic that Lee Schacht possesses throughout my coaching career in other players. Lee taught me that hard work matters.
Sacrifice – When you coach for 40 years you see a lot of players’ sacrifice. In 1981 Bill Williamson made a selfless choice to put the team ahead of himself. I have never forgotten that and have shared that example with my teams down through the years as a reminder of what it looks like to give of yourself to advance the team.
Enthusiasm – I learned from Orchard that anything can be accomplished with an enthusiastic attitude. I cannot remember everyone that affected me with infectious enthusiasm and dogged determination, but I will try. Dennis, Dan, Julie, Jill, Darin, Troy, Jodi, Greg, Eugene, Ann, Tamara, Tammy, Marci, Kent, Jim Farrand, Mark, Andrew, Glen, Bruce, Ben, Erin, Diane, Trisha, and many, many more.
Loyalty – I experienced time and time again the young people and adults showing their loyalty to each other, their parents, teachers, and to the community. Loyalty to my teams and colleagues has allowed me to develop lifelong friendships.
Encouragement – I taught Chemistry at Orchard. Chemistry challenged me every day to teach the subject well. I felt inadequate in this subject. Years later, Claude Strope, a regent’s scholarship recipient, told me I pushed him to be better at Chemistry every day. I did think I pushed Claude, just not in that direction. Thank you Claude for the encouragement.
Community – I always enjoyed sitting in a lawn chair with some of the wiser men of the community in front of Tony’s gas station and listening to the men talk about life in Orchard. Those were relaxing times that allowed me to learn more about Orchard.
Friendship – I loved my time and experience living in Orchard, Nebraska. I made many friends and was treated well. I always appreciated the wisdom and kindness to me of the Wayne Schacht family, Twibell family, and the Willats family as students and as adults. I have fond memories of countless more families and individuals. The whole town helped me grow into a man who loves God, his family and friends.
Thank you Orchard, I learned about life from you.
Letters To The Editor are not the opinion of Pitzer Digital LLC, Antelope County News, The Orchard News or its staff.