McNutt, Seller among NIAA inductees
Tribune News Service
RENO – Characters with character. That best describes the 2008 Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Hall of Fame class.
The 12 inductees into this year’s class were all characters in their own right. Michael Bearman, Hugh Gallagher Jr., John Gonda, Tim Griffin, Dr. Jerry Hughes, Ron McNutt, Dave Nolte, Tom Olivero, Don Reynolds, Joe Sellers, Casey Stevens and Dave Wyman were all inducted into the hall on Thursday at the Lawlor Events Center.
Over 29 seasons from 1976-2004, McNutt, the legendary Carson High baseball coach, became the state’s winningest coach, winning 657 games. He also won two state titles in 1979 and 1992. McNutt also won well over 1,000 games with the Carson Capitols summer league team he established and coached from 1978-2001.
In an interview taped for a video presentation that was done with all the inductees, McNutt said like all coaches, he never set out for an honor such as this.
“It’s something that’s really exciting I can tell you that,” McNutt said. “You’ve got to have great family support.
“You’ve got to have great assistant coaches. They (assistant coaches) were the backbone along with my family.”
The No. 1 supporter of McNutt is his wife, Terrie. “She’s my backbone,” McNutt said. “I don’t think in 30 years she missed a game.”
Gallagher joins his father, Hugh Gallagher Sr. in the all. Gallagher is Nevada’s version of Jimmy Chitwood from “Hoosiers.”
He still remembers the date – Jan. 31, 1965, when he scored 32 points to lead Virginia City High with a student body of 37 students to a win over Reno High with a student body of 1,800 students in boys’ basketball.
During his four years at Virginia City, Gallagher led the Muckers to four straight state titles and a 95-1 record. He also won four state titles in track.
Gallagher said among his mentors was Tom Andreasen, who went on to become Carson High’s succesful boys basketball coach and an NIAA Hall of Famer himself.
The foundation for Griffin’s success was also laid when he was a student-athlete at Carson High where he played football and basketball. In the late 1950s he caught the winning touchdown pass in his junior and senior years in the Nevada Day football game.
He went on to a distinguished career as a coach and administrator in Sparks and in Nevada state high school athletics. He was the co-director along with Andreasen of the state basketball tournament from 1981-1992.
Griffin said he would like to see high school athletes to be more encouraged today to participate in more than just one sport, saying there’s too much emphasis on athletes doing year-round training in one sport.
“You were in everything,” said Griffin on how students were encouraged to participate in as many activities as they could while he was at Carson. “I think the club sports sometimes have hurt high school sports.”
Gonda, who led Sparks High to the state football title in 1959 in his first year as coach, echoed Griffin’s sentiments.
“I don’t think it’s for the best,” said Gonda about some coaches encouraging student-athletes to specialize in just one sport. “I think the student-athlete should select what they want to do.”
Gonda also had a distinguished career as a coach and administrator.
Wyman played for Sellers and Stevens at Wooster and led the Colts to the state football title in 1981. He went on to have a nine-year NFL career.
Wyman’s foundation was also laid when he went to work for his father at 5:30 in the mornings at a Carson City saw mill.
He remembers a players-only meeting before the 1981 state championship game in which a food fight broke out between the Wooster players, which Wyman said is just what they need because they were too tight. Another player voiced his opposition to the food fight in which Wyman responded by nailing the player with a dinner roll in the head. “That was my form of leaderships – throwing a dinner roll,” Wyman said.
As a coach Nolte won 19 state team titles in track and cross country and led the effort for Washoe County’s first all-weather track facility at Reed which now bears his name, the Dave Nolte Northern Nevada Regional Track and Field Facility.
Reynolds also had a distinguished career as a coach and administrator after leading Wooster to the state title in 1967 as an all-state quarterback. Olivero also had a distinguished career as a coach in Sparks and as an administrator in Nevada high school athletics.
Sellers is the winningest football coach in state history, having won 250 games and nine state titles at Wooster and Manogue. He remembers in the early 1980s when Wooster and Reno were rivals. “I was told if I won one game a year, if it was Reno High I would keep my job,” Sellers said.
Stevens was Sellers longtime assistant and a distinguished administrator in his own right. “Still following Joe,” Stevens said.
He was always mentioned as a potential candidate whenever a high school head coaching job would open up in the area, but stayed with Sellers. It looked like Stevens might leave Sellers when there was an opening at Reed.
Stevens decided to do a “practice” interview for an administration job at Wooster in preparation for interview at Reed and ended up being selected for the position at Wooster. So Stevens ended up serving under Sellers as an assistant and serving as Sellers boss as an administrator at the same time. “There were some discussions there,” said Stevens about his boss-assistant relationship with Sellers.
Bearman was a longtime official in basketball, baseball and softball before passing away in 2004. Hughes noted he had the unusual task of suspending Bearman for going after Wooster baseball coach Ron Malcomb. But even though Bearman was a character, he was also a respected official.
Chris Healy, who umpired with Bearman and served as the master of ceremonies for Thursday’s event, recalled memories he had of Bearman.
“I’ll officiate a rock fight if they pay me mooney to do it,” said Healy about what Bearman once said. But Healy said Bearman’s first love was baseball.
“He could run up and down the basketball court with his shoes untied,” said NIAA assistant director Jay Beesemyer, recalling another memory of Bearman.
In accepting the honor for his brother, David Bearman, also noted that Bearman holds the record of having his pants split three times in one game. David also made a plea for improved health care, noting that his brother didn’t have health insurance and that if he did, he could still be alive today.
Hughes, who retired as NIAA executive director a little more than a year ago and oversaw tremendous growth in the NIAA, was allowed to break one of the rules he established. Hall of Fame inductees aren’t allowed to take the microphone, but Hughes was allowed to speak.
Hughes talked about how he responded to those who complained about how long the NIAA Hall of Fame induction ceremonies are.
“If you can’t give 2 1/2 hours to people who have given their lives for 30 years then get the hell out and don’t come back,” he said.
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