One question I find myself asking more and more as I get older, "Where did the school year go?"
I'm not a teacher but with me following the local schools in athletics that's a question I will continue to ask until either I'm tired of the job before retirement or continue when I'm 80-years-old.
Nonetheless, it was a great year to cover high school sports in Lincoln. While the football season may have been sub par for the liking, basketball, volleyball and baseball made up for it.
I want to tip my hat first to Lincoln Northeast. Not necessarily because of it being my alma mater but for pulling off the sports "hat trick." The Rockets made state playoff and tournament appearances in the three "major sports" (football, boys basketball and baseball). They join Creighton Prep and Millard West in Class A to accomplish that feat.
Secondly, to the Lincoln East girls basketball team. I must say watching Grace Barry, Caroline Spethman, KJ and Allie Roh and the rest of the Spartans overcome deficits in each of their state tournament games and to win it all is quite admirable. Dennis Prichard had success at Class D2 Falls City Sacred Heart and finally got the gold at the state's highest level. Congratulations to all!
Third, the Lincoln Southwest baseball team and playing for former head coach Doug Kaltenberger, who has been undergoing treatment in his second bout of leukemia. The Silver Hawks gave it their all and played hard until the very end before falling to Millard West in the semifinals of the state baseball tournament.
Also, a tip of the hat to the Lincoln Southwest girls golf team for winning the Class A championship and to Lincoln Northeast for winning the boys Heartland Athletic Conference and city swimming and diving titles.
Can't forget Lincoln Christian and Waverly girls basketball teams. Both were entertaining to watch through the regular and post season. All had great athletes who helped each team to runner-up finishes at State.
To the retiring coaches: Tim Aylward (football), Don Rempe (softball), Ray Forycki (boys basketball) at Pius X; Mary Schropfer (volleyball) and Mark King (football) at Southwest; Jon Dawson (cross country) and Jeff Pierce (girls basketball) at Lincoln High; and Doug Miller (baseball/assistant football) at Lincoln Southeast, thanks for all of your years of service to the coaching profession and producing outstanding student-athletes.
To all athletes in the Class of 2016: thank you for your dedication and hard work in the classroom, on the court or on the field. May the future bring you brighter success in your endeavors.
To my colleagues Dick Janda, John Harris, Bruce Taylor, Kellan Heavican, Matt Rigby, Michael Dixon, Chris Schmidt, Chris Goforth and Thom Corritore: thanks for putting up with my scheduling of games and the dedication you put in to covering all the games in town or out of town. Truly appreciated and I'm looking forward to the fall, already.
I also want to thank all of our sponsors who help make LincolnPrepSports.com possible. It was 12 years ago this webpage started, a carryover from the old StarCityPlayByPlay.com site. Many of our sponsors have been with us since day one and it's proven to be an effective medium to reach people and show support of local athletics.
Finally, to you...the reader/listener. Believe it or not, you are one of the elements that make this website go and function as another alternative to listening to local high school sports.
In no way shape or form am I making it a lifelong goal of taking out of the competition. We're all doing the same thing, providing a service. Coordination among ourselves in trying to not double up on coverage is the ultimate goal, but if we're at the same game, there's a reason.
We want to cover the big game as much as possible. At the same time, we want to provide publicity to those that may not have an outlet on a weekly basis.
One more thing.
My daughter, Tenaj Jones, is graduating today from Northeast High School. It seems like yesterday I entered her life at the age of 3 when I started dating her mother, now my wife, Jami.
It's hard to believe she's growing up and now heading off to college. She's the class speaker at the Northeast graduation, something I never dreamed of her doing. She's been highly involved in activities from drama and show choir, to Rocket Crew and Speech and I believe that's made her ready to take on the world.
Tenaj will head off to college in the fall and opening the door to another experience in her educational career and a new chapter of her life.
She's been a terrific big sister to her brother, Jered, who arrived in the world about a year after Jami and I were married.
When she walks across the stage at Pinnacle Bank Arena, it will be an emotional time in our household. Hard to believe the day has finally arrive.
Congratulations to all of the members of the Class of 2016! The journey has just begun.