Hall of Fame – 1997
Nominated by Tom McCann (Hall, ’94) with 17 pages of accomplishments and background, Howard Sheley is not one to stand before the crowd and announce his success. In fact, when informed of his nomination to the Hall, he stated in Jimmy Steward syle, “I have never been much to receive awards . . . “, commenting on the team clinching the ’88 State Tournament crown after the consolation finals, “I won’t believe it until the wrestlers are holding the trophy.” You can also say in his 32 years of coaching, he’s been there and done that!. Starting at Palisade, NE, moving to Plattsmouth, NE and coming to Hastings in 1969 he began quietly building his team. After a start of 0-9, but picking up a medalist at state, he moved to a second season of 1-8. Not to be discouraged and still unassumingly marching forward he went on to compile a record of 176-68-1 with 13 Top Ten finishes at State, 9 State Champs, 76 medalists, 17 wrestlers with a 30 match win in one season, 1 wrestler with 110 career wins, 20 wrestlers on the NSWCA Academic All State Team, and 2 wrestlers selected as All-Americans in 1988. Perhaps one of his secret ingredients was spotting Rod Shada (Hall, ’86) as “the coach to beat” with “the team to beat” in central Nebraska. They became Coach Sheley’s “hit team”. When they finally beat them in 1977 (8 years later), “I called my former assistant who had moved to Germany to tell him of the good news. He was real impressed since it was 4 A.M. their time.” Teaching Conceptual Biology and Human Anatomy & Physiology, this gentleman was also chosen NSWCA Class A Wrestling Coach of the Year in ’88, NSWCA President in ’78, and author of the Hastings High Wrestling Handbook which has been judged by USA Wrestling as the #1 handbook 5 times and selected as one of the all-time top 25 in the USA in the past 25 years. Holding the State Record of 10 Pins by a team at State, Howard, himself, was All-Conference, All-Region, All-State, and All-American Athlete in 1960 for his alma mater, Scott City, KS,which he keeps on his dual meet schedule at Hastings. With a Master of Arts Degree plus 45 graduate hours he finds time to make and keep lasting memories in his first State Title,(still looking for #2), coaching his first State Champ in ’73-’74, winning his first dual in his 2nd year (1-8) his marriage to Phyllis, the birth of his daughter Jill in 1987, the birth of his grandson Drake Howard in 1996, catching a Largemouth Bass that weighed 8 lbs. 9.6 oz. in ’95, and buying and selling his first big boat (we think there is more to that story?) And as testimony to the fact that the “wrestling family” stays together, Howard is introduced by the “coach to beat”, his close friend, Rod Shada of Grand Island.