This year’s first inductee found success in three different sports at NHS, earning nine letters during his high school career. Tyson Handsaker, a 2007 Nevada graduate, played soccer, football, and basketball for the Cubs, earning a long list of honors along the way.
Primarily a quarterback, Tyson was named to the All-District football teams in 2004, 2005, and 2006. He was nominated for the 2006 Wendy’s High School Heisman Award and also earned Academic All-State honors from the Iowa Football Coaches Association. On the field, Tyson was cool under pressure and demonstrated a leadership that motivated his teammates to a higher level of play. He holds several passing records at Nevada: most career attempts (507), most career completions (229), most career yards (3152), most attempts in a single game (45), most completions in a single game (17).
Basketball was where Tyson truly stood out, and he played on the varsity team all four years. He earned four varsity letters and was named Second Team All-Conference as a sophomore. As both a junior and a senior, Tyson was named First Team All-Conference, and the Iowa Basketball Coaches Association named him First Team All-District. His senior year, Tyson received a host of additional honors: he earned First Team All-State from the Iowa Newspaper Association, Third Team All-State from the Des Moines Register, Honorable Mention on the McDonald’s All-American High School Basketball Team, and Iowa Basketball Coaches Association Academic All-State. He was also named MidIowa Player of the Year, earned Nevada’s 4D award, and ended his career with 1063 career points, making him the second all-time leading scorer for Nevada boys’ basketball. Those honors came because Tyson paired a solid work ethic with his athletic ability. Coach Joel Fey says Tyson never missed an off-season workout and always strived to push others to a higher level. Most importantly, Tyson took time out of his already-busy schedule to help with Nevada’s youth basketball program, and Coach Fey attributes much of the recent success of the NHS team to Tyson and the Class of 2007, whose influence on youth basketball ten years ago can be seen on the court today.
Tyson capped off his impressive high school career by receiving the Iowa High School Athletic Association’s Governor’s Scholar Recognition Award. After graduation, Tyson attended Loras College in Dubuque, where he went on to play four years of varsity basketball. During his time at Loras, his team won a conference championship and made an NCAA tournament appearance, upsetting the number one team in the nation. In 2010, he was named Male Team Player of the Year.
Tyson earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Loras and then went on to earn his doctorate in physical therapy from Clarke University. He currently lives in Iowa Falls, where he is a physical therapist and facility manager for McFarland Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine. He would like to thank the Nevada community as well as his teachers, coaches, and teammates for all their support. He would also like to thank Coach Joel Fey for being such a great mentor and assisting him with furthering his career at the college level. Last, Tyson thanks his family, specifically his parents, for all the time and support they gave him over the years. They instilled in him the mindset of “never accept anything but your best,” and he says without them, he wouldn’t be anywhere near where he is today. He is greatly appreciative for everything they have done for him. Tyson says, “It is truly an honor to be part of the Hall of Fame at Nevada High School.”
The next inductee was also a three-sport athlete, playing baseball and running both cross country and track. During his time at Nevada, 1993 graduate Ben Long earned eight varsity letters: two in baseball, three in track, and three in cross country.
Ben started in the outfield for the baseball team for two years and was on the bowling team that won the title in the junior major division Ames Area YABA before Nevada had a bowling team. However, it was Ben’s accomplishments as a runner that have earned him Hall of Fame honors. Between track and cross country, Ben was a three-time individual conference champion, a three-time team conference champion, and a three-time state competitor.
A flexible long-distance runner, Ben found success in several events on the track team, where he set a Ballard Bomber Relays record in the 1600 meter run his junior year and was also the Little Hawkeye Conference champion. His senior year, Ben ran on the Drake-qualifying 4x800 team that took first place at the conference meet and finished 12th at state. He was named to the Academic All-Conference team all four years.
On the cross country course, Ben was consistent and dependable. He was named All-Conference for two years and became the most improved runner on the team as a junior. He finished third at the conference meet and eleventh at the district meet where the team took first place. The Nevada team was ranked as high as fourth that year. Ben finished 23rd at the state meet, which helped push the Cubs to a third place finish, the highest state finish ever for Nevada boys’ cross-country up to that point. (The team actually tied for second place but was awarded third after the tiebreaker.) At the end of Ben’s junior season, Coach Larry Parker said much of the success of that team came from Ben’s efforts at improving over the season. Ben’s senior year, he was the conference champion. He led a rebuilding team to a second place finish at districts, and he was the first Nevada runner to cross the finish line at every meet that year, including the state meet. In his cross country career, he received Academic All-Conference recognition every year.
After graduating from Nevada High School, Ben attended Iowa State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He works for Bluestone Engineering in Johnston as the Structural Department Manager. Ben lives in Urbandale with his wife Molly and their three children: Nick, 15; Maria, 13; and Anna, 10. He has enjoyed coaching youth sports over the years, starting with his younger brother’s Little League team while Ben attended Iowa State and then more recently, his kids’ soccer, baseball, softball and basketball teams. Ben would like to thank his coaches, teammates, and family for all the support, motivation and encouragement.
Our next inductee was also best known for his abilities on the track and cross country course. Mark Stefani, a 1983 graduate, became a leading runner right away his freshman year and helped lay the groundwork for the success of the Nevada cross country program for many years after he graduated.
According to longtime cross country Coach Larry Parker, Mark was probably one of the best if not the best true “distance runner” Nevada has ever had. In 1981, Mark qualified for the state meet, and Nevada finished 12th as a team. In 1982, Mark’s senior year, he placed second at the conference meet, fourth at the district meet, and a very respectable 11th at the state meet. In addition to talent, however, Mark brought a great deal of fun and enthusiasm to the team as one of the original members of a group that called themselves the Pranksters. The Pranksters did all they could to make cross-country enjoyable, and their fun-loving hijinks left a very positive imprint on the cross-country program that could be seen for many years after they graduated. The Nevada program became known for long-standing success and for the sense of family and fun among the runners. Coach Parker says it is because of the groundwork laid by Mark and the Pranksters that cross country participation at Nevada steadily increased for many years.
Mark took his talents to the track in the spring, where he ran both the 1600 and 3200 meter runs. His sophomore year, he was the conference runner-up in the 3200. The following year he advanced to the state meet in the 1600, finishing 14th, and also in the 3200, finishing 8th. His two-mile time at the 1982 state meet set a Nevada High School record that stood for 35 years until it was broken this past spring. As a senior, Mark became a conference champion in the 3200 and finished 12th at the state meet, where he also ran the 1600.
Mark currently lives in Middlebury, Vermont with his daughter, Sofia (age 14), and son, Nathan (age 9). He teaches psychology at Norwich University. Distance running has remained very much a part of Mark’s life since his time at Nevada; he continues to enjoy competing in races in the 5K to half-marathon range. A recent pleasure has been competing in the Middlebury Maple Run half-marathon as a relay team with his daughter. He is particularly proud that Sofia has taken enthusiastically to cross country and track. She recently completed her freshman season of high school cross country, receiving her varsity letter. He is perhaps less thrilled (but still very proud) that this appears to be the year in which she has become permanently faster than he is!
Mark would like to express his gratitude to his family, coaches, friends, and the community for all the encouragement, support, and advice that made it possible for him to perform well. He extends special thanks to his coach, Larry Parker, for his mentorship and willingness to put up with a whole lot of shenanigans as well as a friendship that continues to this day; to his aunt and uncle, Nancy and Gary Grimm, who introduced him to the fun of running road races; to his parents, Jay and Angelo Stefani; and to his track and cross-country teammates, especially the Pranksters — it was the camaraderie and fun we shared that was the real prize at the end of the race.
Welcome, Mark Stefani, to the Nevada Athletics Hall of Fame.
COACH BILL KELLOGG
Our final inductee tonight is one some might call a Nevada Institution. Say the name “Coach” anywhere in town, and everyone knows exactly who you’re talking about. Coach Bill Kellogg moved to Nevada in the fall of 1967 to coach and teach elementary physical education, and even though he retired in 1996, he still goes to school every day, which means he’s been a fixture at Central Elementary School for 50 years.
Bill graduated from Sacred Heart High School in Norfolk, Nebraska and went to junior college in Norfolk for one year on a football scholarship. He received his draft papers that year during the Korean War, so he left school and entered the military for two years. He was on a ship on the way to Korea when his orders were changed and he took a detour to Germany, which he considers a lucky break. After leaving the service, he attended Wayne State Teachers College in Nebraska. He was offered a full football scholarship at Wayne State, but since he could attend on the GI bill, he suggested it be given to someone else. He played football at Wayne State for three years. When he graduated, his football coach told him there was a job open in Laton, California. Though Bill was hesitant to go, his coach assured him it was a good school, so Bill and his wife Pat packed up and moved to California, sight unseen, where Bill coached and taught for five years.
They returned to Iowa where Bill taught and coached in Hamburg for one year, and then they moved to Nevada. Bill told his wife at the time that if they moved to Nevada, they weren’t moving again, and in Nevada they stayed. Over the years Bill coached many sports including 7th grade girls’ and boys’ basketball, 8th grade girls’ and boys’ basketball, high school girls’ track, high school wrestling, and high school football. He was the assistant wrestling coach under legendary head coach Nate McClain and coached under several head football coaches including Cecil Rhoads, Bernie Stephenson, and Dick Tryon. As a coach, Bill was part of several highly successful teams in Cub history, including conference champion football teams and teams that made the playoffs in the late 1970s, late 1980s, and early 1990s. Over his many years of coaching, Bill was privileged to coach many athletes who have gone on to participate in sports at the college and professional level, including one who is now an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors. More importantly, he was every Nevada kid’s first coach in his role as the elementary PE teacher. In his class and on the playground at recess, he worked to instill in Nevada students some of their first fundamentals of throwing, catching, and other sports skills. His students and his athletes loved to be around him because his warm enthusiasm let everyone know he cared.
Bill and his late wife Pat have three kids: Katie and her husband Jeff, who live in Independence; Kip and his wife Dana, who live in Cedar Rapids; and Kerry and her husband Mark, who live in Saratoga Springs, New York. Bill has seven granddaughters and one grandson. Bill considers it a privilege to be a part of the Nevada community, as he says it’s a great town with lots of helpful people. He thanks his former athletes and also says with a smile, “Well, I guess I also thank everyone at the elementary for putting up with me all these years.”
Congratulations and welcome to the Hall of Fame, Coach Bill Kellogg.