November 2018


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Welcome to Rise

Welcome to the September 2018 edition of “Rise Grand Island” the alumni newsletter for Grand Island Senior High published every other month by the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation...

Grand Legacy Update

Cheerleader Event and Original Donor List

The passing of time always seems to bring about changes to the routines of daily life, but one thing that has held true over seven decades is the desire to rally behind a cause...

At the Top

STADIUM PROJECT HAS ‘SOUL, SPIRIT’ OF 1947 EFFORT

The Memorial Stadium renovation project, fueled by a $10 million gift from Hall of Honor member Lanny Martin (Class of 1964), is moving forward. And onward. And, most especially, upward...

I've Been Thinking

Postcards, Car Chases from the West Coast

It’s snowing in Grand Island as I write. Big, heavy flakes sauntering earthward from the leaden skies of November 8. Some call a morning like this beautiful. Some embrace the cold and wet. Some even look forward to it...

Alumni Reunions

Current Reunion Information

 

Pushing On

Milestones

Chris Hochstetler, Class of 1984, joined Hastings College on October 8 as the Dean of Creativity and Innovation...

Shaking the World

GISH Football is Playing for the Championship

Why not us? Monday, November 19th at 7:00 pm, our boys are playing for the Class A Championship! Check out this article...

Your Legacy. Their Opportunity.

Classroom Mini-Grants

On Tuesday, November 13, and Wednesday, November 14, members of the staff for the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation and Grand Island Senior High Cheerleaders surprised...

On the Island

The most exciting season of all

From out on the football field to being in the stands and seats to running cross country to singing songs from ABBA on the stage, Grand Island Senior High has had an eventful fall season. A busy season...

A Distant Mirror

Genetics or Environment?

Scientists, psychologists, and many others, for millennia, including such notable scholars as the Duke Brothers in the movie “Trading Places,” have questioned whether the behavior of a person stems more from genetics or environment. Is it the...

In Memoriam

September and October memorial list of GISH Alumni...


Welcome to Rise

Welcome to the November 2018 edition of “Rise Grand Island” the alumni newsletter for Grand Island Senior High published every other month by the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation. “Rise” is where we connect with thousands of Islanders across the globe, keeping you and them informed on what’s happening in Purple and Gold land, and reminiscing a little bit as well.

This is Volume 3, Number 6, our last publication of “Rise” this calendar year, our third year as the official voice for alums of Islander Nation. Thanks for reading us and for your comments and support.

We enjoy hearing from those of you who find “Rise” in your in-box every other month. Give us a shout, especially if you or a GISH alum you know has done something new, newsy, or newsworthy. You can reach us at the email addresses on the front page.

This issue’s “At the Top” is a shout out to any and all alums who want to be involved in the Memorial Stadium Project: Our Grand Legacy.  We have provided links for donors and for volunteers to become part of the investment that will be the new Memorial Stadium.

Speaking of which, the “Grand Legacy Update.” by Leigh Lillibridge, provides, among other things, a list of everyone who contributed to the original memorial Stadium built in 1947. My nickel says everyone treading that list of hundreds and hundreds of names will know someone — probably quite a few. The degree of separation among Islanders is low.

Also in the issue Foundation Executive Director Traci Skalberg shares an article from The Grand Island Independent about our GISH Football players and their amazing season. She also shares an article remembering Coach Ken Fischer who passed away this week. In Your Legacy. Their Opportunity, there are stories and pictures from this week's classroom grant prize patrol. The GIPS Foundation awards grants annually to our schools.

Our Milestones section introduces you to the new Dean of Creativity and Innovation at Hastings College, Islander grad, Chris Hochstetler, Class of 1984. Chris is returning to Central Nebraska after a military career, earning advanced degrees, and working as a CEO in Omaha.

Our Class Reunion Update highlights the Class of 1951 with a classic photo. Check it out. We’ll also let you know who is going to party and when in case your class is on deck or maybe you just want to crash another class’s soiree and see a few old friends. We’ve added monthly class gatherings to the lineup so you locals can share a drink or a coffee with old friends.

“Distant Mirror” correspondent, Mike Monk, Class of 1967, is sure his grandson Leo’s infatuation with all things sports is a case of apples and the distances they fall from trees … but perhaps skipping a generation.

My “I’ve Been Thinking” is a confession of sorts that I’ve grown weary of Nebraska winters and long for California sunshine. To make my point, I’ve included a benign, but hilarious car chase I started on the streets of Los Angeles some years ago.

As we do every issue, we honor those Islanders who passed away the last couple months in our In Memoriam section.

Per our custom, we’ll see what songs were popular on the radio, what books people were reading, what movies were wooing us to the big screen, and what television shows kept us from our homework each decade during November going back to the 1930s.

We hope you enjoy this “Rise” as we wrap year three connecting with Islander nation. Oh, yeah, and remember … keep pushing on.

George Ayoub, Class of 1968
Editor, “Rise Grand Island”

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Grand Legacy Update

Cheerleaders hosting Goodwill drive for Memorial Stadium project

The passing of time always seems to bring about changes to the routines of daily life, but one thing that has held true over seven decades is the desire to rally behind a cause. Just like the Grand Island students did in 1947, the student body of today are linking arms and creating momentum for our Memorial Stadium Campaign. To find out how you can help the Grand Island Senior High Cheerleaders in their efforts to raise funds for the Memorial Stadium Project by hosting a Goodwill Drive, click here.

To read about how the students of 1947 contributed to the fundraising efforts to build Memorial Stadium click here.

 

Donor List from 1945-1947 for Grand Island’s Memorial Stadium


You might have already read the newspaper article that lists every donor name of the thousands who gave to the original stadium campaign from 1945-1947, but if you missed it, take some time to read the article and see the donor listing that was so graciously published by the Grand Island Independent on Friday, October 19, 2018.

Many community members have enjoyed finding names of their parents, grandparents and great grandparents amongst the many who rallied behind the community-wide fundraising effort to bring the dream of Memorial Stadium to reality so many years ago.

To read the article click here….

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At the Top

Stadium Project Has ‘Soul, Spirit’ of 1947 Effort


The Memorial Stadium renovation project, fueled by a $10 million gift from Hall of Honor member Lanny Martin (Class of 1964), is moving forward. And onward. And, most especially, upward.

Volunteers for “Our Grand Legacy” are fanning out across Grand Island, Nebraska, and the country looking for Islander alums and friends of Islander Nation to invest in what will be a spectacular new community asset and wonderful legacy for the city.

The effort mimics in part the effort the community put forth in the 1940s to open Memorial Stadium in 1947. Then, the shiny new stadium became an immediate in-demand sports venue, a community focal point, and a place to honor the sacrifice of area veterans. Memorial Stadium earned what grew into a sterling reputation as did the reputation of Grand Island for its spirit of community. The Grand Island Public Schools Foundation recently ran a list in The Independent of the hundreds and hundreds of donors who made the original Memorial Stadium possible. That list can be found in Leigh Lillibridge’s “Grand Legacy Update” column in this edition of Rise.

With tens of thousands of Islanders scattered across the globe, the effort to encourage them to be a part of restoring our “Grand Legacy” looks a little different from the effort more than seven decades ago, But the soul and spirit of the enterprise is the same. Here’s a link to see how you can donate to the stadium renovation, get involved as a volunteer, or, better yet, do both: Ways to Give

As we wrote last July, the project both builds and preserves: The to-do list is long and impressive: A brand new West Stadium built from the ground up, all new seating for both the West and East Stadiums, new restrooms, new concession stands, new locker rooms, new field turf, track resurfacing, a state-of-the-art two-level press box, meeting rooms, a new addition to the East Stadium that would add nearly 500 seats to Memorial Stadium’s total capacity, and technology and amenities throughout to meet the needs of events in modern stadiums.

The East Stadium’s iconic facade, on which are permanently etched historic battle sites from Guadalcanal to Bastogne to Salerno, will be preserved. From the outset Memorial Stadium, true to its name and its lineage, has a deep and abiding respect for those men and women who have served in the military. You can take a virtual tour and view images and plans for the new stadium at our Memorial Stadium Website

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I've Been Thinking

Postcards, Car Chases from the West Coast


It’s snowing in Grand Island as I write. Big, heavy flakes sauntering earthward from the leaden skies of November 8. Some call a morning like this beautiful. Some embrace the cold and wet. Some even look forward to it.

I’m not that guy.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Grand Island guy, repping the 8 on the plate and all things considered living quite comfortably. But the first “real” day of winter bums me out.

It’s a learned state of mind.

The winter of my youth was neither remarkable nor noticeably discontent.

Years ago the Purple and Gold staff would select “Miss Merry Christmas and Mr. Happy New Year” and invariably photograph the laughing couple in the throes of a snowball fight. Always quite charming if you went in for that sort of thing.

Occasionally the Grand Island Public Schools had snow days although I’m having trouble remembering a specific one in high school. You would think the traditional joy and rapture of such an event would rekindle some memory but I’m drawing a blank.

I do remember “hooky-bobbing” cars for a free ride on their bumpers to and from Walnut Junior High although the sport was frowned on by our elders and probably illegal. OK, it was illegal.

I also recall — when we were even younger — throwing snowballs at cars, trying to get them to chase us, a sure adrenaline rush in the cold and snow. Perhaps the reason my hands now go nearly numb inside my gloves when the temps head below freezing is the hour I spent when I was 11 hiding in a nearby doghouse (without the pooch fortunately) — wet, cold, terrified, but oddly exhilarated while a carload of teen toughs combed the neighborhood around 10th and Kimball for us. I avoided a beat down I deserved, but my fingertips have never been the same.

Throw into the mix 10 winters living in Los Angeles and I have become a fair weather fan. Not of the Islanders. I’m a fan of fair weather.

A friend, a Grand Island native, theorizes that my blood thinned during a decade in Southern California, creating what he called the CWF, the California Wimp Factor: unable to handle the rigors of the extreme weather in which one was raised due to the influence of the favorable climes of the Golden State.

Guilty as diagnosed, your honor … er … doctor. Whatever. I’m no fan of winter.

Circumstances being what they are in my life, a permanent move or even annual snow birding, is not in the cards right now. So I live vicariously through others: friends in Newport Beach and Pasadena; cousins in San Diego County; memories from six weeks in Palm Springs a couple winters ago; even two buddies in the Bay Area; and if all else fails, I have a deck of postcards somewhere around here.

Sure, I know about all the people and the traffic and the earthquakes and the urban legends. I lived there 10 years. But, tomorrow, when the three inches of snow on the ground will make the 26 degrees to which I will awaken even colder, I’ll do some California dreaming. Just saying.

All of which is why I need to tell you the car chase story.

One morning I was driving east on Melrose Avenue, not far from where I lived, when I realized the car ahead of me was from Nebraska … with an 8-county plate. “Someone from home,” I thought, and, as we might do in Hall County, decided to flag them down for a little chat, see who their people were, what our degrees of separation might be. Heck, maybe the driver, a woman, might be a relative.

I moved to the left lane and rolled my window down, trying to make eye contact.

She was prepared for the rigors of metropolitan driving so to her I was no Islander from Nebraska but a big city knucklehead about whom she had been warned. After several blocks and traffic building behind us, I started to honk and wave.

Nothing. She stared straight ahead.

After more honking and more waving, I frantically pointed to the back of her car, hoping she’d get “license plate” rather than “your trunk is on fire.” After a mile or so we came to a long light. My wave had never been more enthusiastic, my smile never as sincere.

She slowly rolled the window down, peeking over the glass as it descended. A man I guessed was her husband was in the passenger seat. They looked terrified, as if they had decided to have a little visit with the devil.

“I’m from Grand Island,” I yelled. “Grand Island!”
They stared blankly.
“Your license plate. Hall County?”
More blanks.
“I wanted to say hello. I grew up in Grand Island.”
She turned to her husband and then back to me. The light changed.
“We’re from Wood River,” she said and sped off.

Cars started honking behind me as I sat momentarily stunned in the left-hand lane, rebuffed at trying to connect with home, saddened that my chase bore only bitter fruit.

I drove a couple blocks and turned around as I was well past my original destination. I pulled into a parking lot to think about what had just happened.

It was a glorious Southern California morning, clearer than usual, the mountains in full view. Surely the fog was lifting from the beaches. A postcard-like day, if you will. The city moved around me in its continual search for something it never seemed to find. The sound comforted me. It was mid-morning and already 70 degrees. And it was January.

As for my new, almost friends, they would eventually be going back to winter in Wood River.

I drove away in the warmth … smiling.

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Are you planning a class reunion?

We can help get you started!

Contact us for your class list and send us information about your reunion. We will post it to our webpage.


Kari Price, Alumni Coordinator

308.385.5900 ext. 1148

 

Class of 1951

Prominently displayed when the Class of 1951 gathered Friday, September 24, 2018, at the Liederkranz in downtown Grand Island was this photo of (from left) Merle Gier, Richard Neumayer, Richard Mitton, Robert Diechman, and Robert Preston enjoying a cigar 57 years earlier.


For more Reunion News, read on.


Class of 1956

The Class of 1956 wishes to extend an invitation to fellow classmates to join them at their monthly gathering. They meet on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at the Midtown Holiday Inn at 6:00 pm.


Class of 1966

The Class of 1966 wishes to extend an invitation to fellow classmates to join them at their monthly lunch gathering. They meet the 3rd Wednesday of each month at the Platt Duetsche at 1:00 pm.

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Pushing On

Milestones


Chris Hochstetler, Class of 1984, joined Hastings College on October 8 as the Dean of Creativity and Innovation. He was Chief Executive Officer of KANEKO in Omaha, where he was responsible for developing and executing the organization’s strategic plans, day-to-day operations, staff and all fundraising.

According to a Hastings College Press release, Chris will “work closely with faculty and staff in the Visual Arts and Performing Arts to expand and grow their programs and develop unique ways to bring creativity and innovation to the campus."

After graduating from Senior High, Chris joined the Army and had a 20-year career, serving in various assignments and locations, including Europe and Iraq. He is a combat veteran. His last assignment was the Acting Battalion Sergeant Major of the Army’s only Special Operations Recruiting Battalion.

He then earned a B.S. in Legal Studies and a History minor from the University of Maryland, and a Master of Public Administration, specializing in nonprofit management and leadership, from Walden University.

The former Islander is excited about his new opportunity close to home. ”Hastings College has graduated creative and caring students for 136 years. Innovation and creativity are key elements of discerning, compassionate, and engaged citizens and communities. History records that the Arts can help us fulfill this vital human pursuit. I am both honored and humbled to join the Bronco Family as your Dean of Innovation and Creativity. I anticipate the future and our continued excellence in reshaping higher education in a fashion that provides the creative and caring innovators of tomorrow.”  

Chris has also served as the Director of Fund Development for the Missionary Society of St. Columban, an international missionary society, and as Senior Vice President of Resource Development for the American Lung Association.

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Shaking the World

GISH Football is Playing for the Championship!

Why not us? Monday, November 19th at 7:00 pm, our boys are playing for the Class A Championship! Check out this article from the Grand Island Independent to read about their amazing season.

Islander Juggernaut rolls on to Class A Title Game.

 

We also wanted to reference another article in The Grand Island Independent by Terry Douglass remembering Coach Fischer. Ken Fischer coached at GISH from 1973-1991. You can find the whole article below.

Fischer remembered for big heart, coaching excellence

 

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Your Legacy. Their Opportunity.

Classroom Mini-Grants

On Tuesday, November 13, and Wednesday, November 14, members of the staff for the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation and Grand Island Senior High Cheerleaders surprised teachers and students across the Grand Island School District when they arrived at schools to award classroom opportunities for students. The Grand Island Public Schools Foundation presented 20 grants to teachers for classroom projects that add value to the curriculum and will benefit 4,688 GIPS students this year.

A total of 12 Starr Elementary teachers received five Grand Island Public Schools Foundation mini-grants totaling almost $2,500 Wednesday morning. Alicia Glaser received a mini-grant to use in her music room. You can read the article from The GI Independent here: Starr teachers awarded GIPS Foundation mini-grants

A grant was also handed out at Lincoln to help reward students for perfect attendance. You can see that report from KSNB 4 here: GIPS teachers receive grants for classrooms, students

We found NTV's Steve White at Newell where we awarded a grant to Shelley Eickhoff. You can see that report here: Stadium fundraising nears goal line as Islanders head to state championship

To see the rest of our awards and more pictures, go to our website: GIPS Foundation.

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On the Island

The most exciting season of all

From out on the football field to being in the stands and seats to running cross country to singing songs from ABBA on the stage, Grand Island Senior High has had an eventful fall season. A busy season with many highlights, which express who the Islanders are and what GISH stands for.

The football team has had a very successful season, heading to the State Championship game for the first time since 1978. The Islanders have won nine out of 11 games with power and might. This year has been the biggest comeback for our football team and they are making history. Seniors led the way as GISH made the playoffs and won two games coming from behind (one the largest comeback in Class A playoff history against Omaha North). In the semi-finals on a frigid night at Bellevue West the Islanders controlled the game and won 37-30 to make it to the championship game in Lincoln on November 19 at 7 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.

Throughout the season, fans and the Islanders Hooligans in the stands wore their spirit shirts and their themed outfits to encourage the team to do its best. They chanted and roared with every pass, every first down, and every touchdown. The dance team made everything sparkle with music and choreography to start off each game with school pride. The cheerleaders helped bring excitement to the crowd, and the band played and performed at halftime to make every home game more exciting. Faculty and coaches were proud of their students and what they accomplished at each game. Each student was an Islander expressing pride and encouragement to one another — being gold and definitely wearing purple. Although musical kids weren’t wearing purple, they still showed their talents and dedication for the entertainment of Grand Island.

“Mamma Mia” lit the stage in the Grand Island Senior High auditorium with about 70 cast members performing. Abba songs moved through the audience and all around the theater from a strong choir. Two months of rehearsals included singing, dancing, and set building. It created shows people won’t forget. “Mamma Mia” opened the 26th of October and ended the 28th. Tamia Wilson, who played Donna, glided around the stage singing heartfelt tunes. Lydia Eliason, who played Sophie, a character who found who she was. With a great cast came great directors: Christine Kier, Greg Ulmer, and Jeff Vyhlidal. From the song “Mamma Mia” to “Dancing Queen,” people were grooving in their seats. It was Senior High’s “grooviest” musical in a long time.

Not only was the musical a hit, so was the GISH cross-country team with Islander junior Jacob Kosmicki finishing 6th at State.

GISH has many champions in its midst and winning is one of our priorities. GISH strives for excellence whether it is in athletics or in fine arts and especially in the classroom. This year has been the first year GISH has had block scheduling and welcoming freshmen into the new academies. It is different from how it was ever before and students are still adjusting to the change. Just recently, freshmen have already selected what classes and what academy they want for next year. Counselors and administrators are creating a special schedule for each student based on what he or she plans on doing in the future. The academies will help insure students will be ready for the work force and be prepared for jobs and college. Some students are having difficulties with the change but are trying to make the most of it.

Alumni are always welcome at all the games and meets, musicals and plays, and every performance. GISH encourages you to come back and remember all the memories you have created here and to remember what made you who you are.

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A Distant Mirror

Genetics or Environment?

Scientists, psychologists, and many others, for millennia, including such notable scholars as the Duke Brothers in the movie “Trading Places,” have questioned whether the behavior of a person stems more from genetics or environment. Is it the DNA our parents gave us that inevitably will determine the general path we take, or the loving touch of a grandmother and gentle guidance about how to live life that more influences our life choices?

I am currently fascinated by this issue because of my five-year-old grandson Leonardo. I will freely admit, and have in this column, that I am an avid sports fan. Some in my family would even say sports obsessed. Now mind you, I have many lifelong passions, including literature, theatre, travel, exercise, history, and beginning in college, art, ballet, and opera, and I continue to pursue them to this day.     

But from the time I was a small boy, I have always been fascinated by the batted ball, the touchdown pass, the 100-meter winner in the Olympics, the shooting guard in basketball who passed like a wizard, and the grace, shot blocking, and defense of the great Bill Russell. I wanted to watch any sport on television and play all sports in their season. My fellow scribe George Ayoub and I, and our friend Bobby McFarland, were playing baseball in the street as six year olds. I remember first understanding the concept of an average when, at about age seven, I noticed that Mickey Mantle’s batting average had gone down.  How could that happen? At about age seven my friend Steven Schroeder gave me about 20 old issues of “Sports Illustrated,” my first contact with the magazine. I treated them like they were as precious as the Dead Sea Scrolls, or an original copy of the U.S. Constitution, caressing them lovingly and examining each one in detail. I played Little League and Little Bigger League baseball and one year with the American Legion Midgets. I participated in football, basketball, and track at Walnut Junior High and in High School. I was the Sports Editor of the Islander in both my Junior and Senior years, and in my junior and senior years of college, I was the Sports Director of the Harvard Radio Station, WHRB. I was the color commentator for our Harvard football broadcasts.

This has led to a life that begins each day with the sports section, and involves multiple fantasy leagues at all times of the year, and attendance at major sporting events whenever possible.  From 1990-1994, my wife and I were minority owners of the San Diego Padres, a wonderful experience that went well beyond my wildest dreams when growing up in modest circumstances.

So when my two children were born, friends noted that I would now have them to share my sporting passion.  And while my children enjoyed sports, it went in a slightly different direction. My daughter fell in love with running and swimming, and liked many Olympic sports. She was a captain of her high school and college cross country teams, and this past year completed the Boston Marathon.  But she was so-so on team sports. My son also is a big fan of auto racing, skiing, and shooting, but also not a huge fan of team sports. It is hard to imagine an environment that was more conducive to enjoying and embracing sports, but they had other interests like music and movies that they placed first.        

Playground Play by Play

Then came my grandson Leonardo, who will be six on November 20. At the age of two he was fascinated by his father’s soccer balls. He learned to kick with the instep, with power and grace at age three. He was playing in youth soccer games at age four, and he was warned in pre-school not to kick the soccer ball, since he might hurt somebody. Every time he saw me watching a sport, he would join and ask questions about the play and who was winning. By age five, he now has his mom (my daughter), read the sports page to him every day. He watches soccer with his father and quickly became an avid fan of European Soccer and the World Cup. He knows that Christiano Renaldo left the Spanish club Real Madrid and now plays for Juventus in Italy. He knows his uncle Ricardo loves Inter Milan in the Italian Serie A. He knows that Luca Modric of Real Madrid is from Croatia. He knows that Harry Kane is the star striker for Tottenham Hotspur. Tottenham, by the way, is the only sports team I know named after a Shakespearean character (Harry Hotspur from Henry IV, Part 1). And he loves Leo Messi of Barcelona, since they share the name Leo.


Leo holds a set of sheets with all the Major League Baseball teams on them.

Since they live in Minneapolis, he is already a fan of the Twins (several shirts and hats), the Vikings (several shirts), the Wild, the Timberwolves, and the MLS team, the Minneapolis United Loons (a shirt and a hat). My eight-year-old granddaughter, Victoria, can do a perfect rendition of the sound of the Loon at the games. Leo and I have gone together to about eight Twins games, a Wild game, a Red Sox game in Fenway Park, a UCLA basketball game in LA, and a Minnesota Gophers women’s volleyball match a couple of weeks ago in St. Paul. When at these games, he is totally engaged. He follows the score, asks about rules, and lives and dies with each play. For Halloween, he was the Vikings quarterback, Kirk Cousins, and already had his helmet, football, and “Cousins” jersey ready to go days before October 31. 

He loves to be with me in my Minnesota house’s “man cave,” where I have (1) a big screen TV, (2) a street hockey net, with hockey sticks and a soft puck and (3) a small basketball hoop attached to one wall. We play hockey, basketball, and whiffle ball in the man cave. Sports are not only permitted, but encouraged. The minute he and his sister arrive for a sleepover or visit, he says, “Grandpa, let’s go down to the basement.” He will often ask to watch some sport, and I have a trove of games recorded, so we watch. But while watching he simultaneously plays the sport himself, mimicking the actions, moves and facial expressions of the players on the screen. He runs, jumps and falls, as the players do on television. He does a great imitation of a soccer player who is fouled and pretends to be dying. 

He will at times declare he is playing in a game, “Grandpa, this is Las Vegas Golden Knights versus Minnesota Wild.” He will then keep imaginary scores, and make up imaginary players. “And Martin Flea scores for the Wild, his 10th goal of the game!” Martin Flea? 

Earlier this year, my wife took our granddaughter out for an afternoon outing while Leo and I stayed home. When they left, Leo said to me with a smile on his face, “Now we can watch whatever sports we want, Grandpa.” He started kindergarten in September, and his teacher laughingly told his parents at the first teacher conference about Leo on the playground. She said he would describe the action on the playground in his sports announcer voice, “Oh Jeremy just fell down for the third time during recess! Oh Boy, that’s got to hurt!”

Math, geography, and more

For Christmas last year I got him a set of miniature helmets with the logos of every National Football League team. He played with them constantly, already recognizing most of the teams. He would also have imaginary games with the helmets. “Grandpa, it is Jaguars 23 – Bears 5.”       

His love for sports has helped him to begin to learn to read even before he entered kindergarten. He will ask me to pull out my iPhone and go over the scoreboard of recent scores in every sport. A couple of weeks ago we checked all the scores from pro football, college football, the National Hockey League, the English Premier League Soccer league, the Italian Serie A soccer league, the Spanish La Liga, Major League Soccer, and even the Big Ten women’s volleyball scores. He would look at the scores and say, for example, “Ohhhh … Alabama beat some other team 65-31!” I was once recording a major soccer game between two English teams, Liverpool and Chelsea, while we were having lunch at a restaurant. Leo knew it, but from half way across a big restaurant, he saw the scroll underneath the game being shown on television, and said, “OOOO, Grandpa, bad news. Chelsea 2, Liverpool 1, and it is over!” I could barely read the words, but he had it down.

In addition, either sports has also given him an interest in numbers, or his fascination with numbers has increased his interest in sports. But he is acutely conscious of numbers and scores. Last June, with me watching the Golden State Warriors play the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA finals, he would say, “Grandpa, Warriors leading 43-35…we are up 8 points!” And he can tell you to this day the final score of last year’s Vikings/Eagles game, which the Eagles won to put them in the Super Bowl.          

He has also developed an increased interest in geography arising from sports. As he closely watched the World Cup Soccer results this past summer, he wanted to know where Brazil, Croatia, and Belgium were on the map. He already knew where the USA, Mexico, Guatemala, England, France, and Russia were.   

There is another interesting aspect of Leonardo’s love of sports. My daughter, Susannah, has made it clear that he will not be permitted to play tackle football, due to the serious concussion and other injury risks involved. I strongly support this decision. Indeed, so does Leo, who after mimicking the moves of a wide receiver making a catch, will then declare to me, “You know, Grandpa, football is very dangerous, and I like to watch, but I won’t play tackle football.” Finally, Leo has a tremendous characteristic that not all athletes have. If he fails at something, he misses the whiffle ball, does not make the basket, or shoots wide of the goal, he is unfazed. He does not get angry or discouraged, but is always ready for more.    

To return to genetics or environment, I personally think both play major roles in who we are. I know many friends and acquaintances who gained a love of sports or opera or art from a close relative or friend, from their environment. But reflecting on my children and grandson Leo, I have to think that the truly passionate sports fan, the one who lives and breathes the stuff, is that way in large part due to genetics. As my daughter Susannah has said more than once with Leo and me, “It skips a generation.” I think she is right.       

As a final word, I type this after just returning from Boston, where I saw games one and two of this year’s World Series, which the Boston Red Sox won 4 games to 1 over the Los Angeles Dodgers. My beloved Red Sox had a great year. In part to annoy me — and see my reaction — Leo rooted for the Dodgers. He points out he was born in LA, so I cannot argue. But for me the beauty is that he cares. 

Mike Monk can be reached at m.monk@mpglaw.com.

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In Memoriam

September and October memorial list of GISH Alumni ...

JAMES KIRSCHBAUM, Class of 1948, died Aug. 15, 2018, in Grand Island. He was 88.

JUDITH ‘JUDY’ NELSON, Class of 1967, died Aug. 21, 2018, in Genoa. She was 69.

CARA (WHELAN) RUSSELL, Class of 1984, died Sept. 4, 2018, in Grand Island. She was 53.

RICHARD ‘DICK’ SCHUESSLER, Class of 1965, died Sept. 8, 2018, in Lincoln. He was 71.

BEV (ENCINGER) ANDREWS, Class of 1988, died Sept. 16, 2018, in Grand Island. She was 48.

DARLENE (JENSEN) JEPPESEN, Class of 1942, died Sept. 19, 2018, in Grand Island. She was 94.

JOSE MARTINEZ, Class of 2017, died Sept. 19, 2018, in Hastings. Jose lived in Grand Island. He was 19.

RILLEY NIELSEN, Class of 1944, died Sept. 23, 2018, in Grand Island. He was 92.

DON MUHS, Class of 1951, died Sept. 24, 2018, in Chandler, Ariz. He was 85.

DONALD ROCK, Class of 1947, died Sept. 26, 2018, in Grand Island. He was 89.

TEX HARVEY, Longtime teacher, coach, and athletic director at Senior High, died Sept. 28, 2018, in Grand Island. He was 80.

BEVERLY (CONNOLE) THORNE, Class of 1947, died, Sept. 28, 2018, in Grand Island. She was 90.

JERRY HEHNKE, Class of 1953, died Sept. 28, 2018, in Grand Island. He was 82.

MONICA (JONES) GENTRY, Class of 1970, died Oct. 3, 2018, in Grand Island. She was 65.

LYNN WILLITS, Class of 1939, died Oct. 4, 2018, in North Platte. He was 97.

ROGER KEITH, Class of 1963, died Oct. 6, 2018, in Hastings. Roger lived in Holstein. He was 73.

RUTH ANN (HIGHT) BOEKA, Class of 1953, died Oct. 11, 2018, in Lincoln. She was 83.

FERN (BEHRENS) SCHEEL, Class of 1941, died Oct. 11, 2018, in Valencia, Calif. She was 94.

VICTOR OLSON JR., Class of 1944, died Oct. 15, 2018, in Lincoln. He was 92.

LORAN TILLEY, Class of 1961, died Oct. 16, 2018, in Grand Island. He was 76.

LARRIE THESENVITZ, Class of 1964, died Oct. 16, 2018, in Broken Arrow, Okla. He was 71.

LYNDA (HINES) ADAME, Class of 1978, died Oct. 18, 2018, in Niles, Mich. She was 58.

LORA (MCKENZIE) FINDLEY, Class of 1940, died Oct. 24, 2018, in Wood River. She was 97.

JEAN STECKMYER, Class of 1940, died Oct. 26, 2018, in Kalispell, Mont. Jean lived in Central City and Grand Island. He was 96.

To report an alumni death since October 31, 2018, please send an email with the first name, last name, class year and maiden name if applicable to

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