Curt Holmquist will receive a special award for coaches | Sports
Curt Holmquist, who was a teacher and coach at Chadron High School for 37½ years and still lives in Chadron, will soon receive a special award. He will receive the Nebraska Coaches Association’s Ken Cook Award for 2022 at the association’s annual Awards and Recognition Banquet in Lincoln on Sunday, July 24.
He will be the 16th recipient of the award and the first from West Lexington. Selection is made by the NCA Board of Directors to recognize coaches “who have made lasting contributions to Nebraska high schools in women’s basketball.”
Ken Cook, after whom the award is named, was a high-achieving football and women’s basketball coach at Adams High School, later renamed Freeman High.
Originally from Ravenna, Neb., Holmquist has a short summary of his life and career. “I fell in love with Chadron when I came to attend Chadron State and never left.” It was in the fall of 1971, more than 50 years ago. However, after his freshman year at CSC, he was drafted into the military and served two years before returning to college in the fall of 1974.
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Holmquist majored in math and also had a minor in history. He has primarily taught math throughout his career, including the past five years at Pine Ridge High School.
For the first 34 years he was at Chadron High – until the administration insisted he drop out of one of the sports – he also coached three sports each year, often as a head coach.
He was a volleyball head coach for five years, a women’s basketball head coach for 24 years, a women’s golf coach for 16 years and a men’s golf coach for six years. He was also an assistant volleyball coach before and after serving as head coach for the 1989 to 1993 seasons.
His basketball teams finished with a 316-197 record.
At Ravenna High, Holmquist started on the basketball team as a senior and on the golf team for three years. He did not play any varsity sports in college, but participated in intramural activities and took almost every training technique course offered by CSC.
Holmquist said he was finishing his education in Rushville under Chadron native Chuck Cogdill in the fall of 1976 when he learned that Chadron Middle School was looking for a math teacher. He had planned to return to CSC in the spring to take what he calls “fun classes.” But because he had taken two summer sessions, he had enough credits to graduate, interviewed, and accepted the job when it was offered to him. He graduated in May 1977.
He spent his freshman year and a half at Chadron Middle School and was one of four teachers to transition from there to high school in the fall of 1979, when ninth graders also made the transition.
Holmquist recalls that during his first semester at Chadron Schools, he helped Rob Wahlstrom with athletics, doubling the size of the sport’s coaching staff. He continued as an athletics assistant until the spring of 2006, when he took over as the boys’ golf coach after Dick Stein left the sport.
Holmquist remained the boys’ golf mentor until the 2011–12 school year when it was decided he should not be the three-sport head coach. He began his 24-year tenure as women’s basketball coach in 1990-91, replacing JC Nemecek, and became the women’s golf coach in 1998 after Buck Edwards retired.
Holmquist’s first-team basketball was 3-14, but the Lady Cardinals were 12-9 the following season and made their first trip to the state tournament in March 1992. Sixteen of his 24 hoop teams had winning records.
He brought his second team to the state in 1995-96, after losing his first 11 games. But he won the final two games of the regular season and the district tournament to earn the trip to Lincoln. The Lady Cardinals were the eighth seed and lost to top seed Battle Creek 68-29 in the first round.
The following year, the Cards defeated Bennington in the state first round and were ranked No. 6 in the C-1 class at the end of the season.
In 1999-2000, the Cardinals did even better by playing their games in very tight condition. They edged Tri-County 59-56 and Superior 42-41 before being stifled by Arlington 36-34 in the championship tilt. The World-Herald ranked them #2.
Holmquist’s basketball teams also went to the state in 2004-05, 2005-06 and the last three years he coached the sport. The 2011-12 and 2012-13 teams won their first games at Lincoln and finished fourth in the C-1 class both years.
A total of nine of its women’s teams have reached the state tournament. His last three had a 68-13 cumulative record and each earned top 10 C-1 class rankings from the Omaha and Lincoln newspapers.
Each of its last five women’s golf teams has also qualified for the state tournament.
In addition to coaching three sports for most of his career, Holmquist was heavily involved in the Chadron Municipal League’s summer softball and basketball programs for over two decades. He purposely managed much of the schedule, lined up referees and referees, and made sure the media got the results.
During his tenure as basketball coach, he opened the gymnasium in the summer for his players so they could hone their skills and took the teams to numerous camps. This meant he had to be one of the busiest people in town, but he never seemed stressed, rushed or in a bad mood.
When he retired, Holmquist said he enjoyed being so involved in high school and community activities. “I can honestly say that I enjoyed every second I spent with the faculty members and the kids,” he said with his ever-present smile.
Holmquist met his wife Mary at Chadron State. He notes that they had “a cafeteria romance”. Both were working there in the fall of 1974 when he came back from his snag in the army and they started dating.
The couple have three children, all of whom have been very involved in their coaching activities. They are Dionne, Courtney and Alec.
The three children started accompanying their father to the gym or fields when they were toddlers and spent countless hours with him when they were growing up.
The eldest, Dionne, was a runner-up in the state golf tournament as a sophomore in the fall of 1990, but gave up the sport and played on her father’s volleyball teams as a junior and senior. . She also stood out on her basketball team that qualified for the 1992 State Basketball Tournament and placed fourth in Class B Disc at the State Meet of her senior year in 1993. She also wrote volleyball and golf at Chadron State.
Courtney also played golf for the Cardinals and was a stats keeper for her father’s basketball teams. Her father recalls that even when she was in kindergarten at the end of her school day, she simply crossed the street and joined him at the college gymnasium where he was coaching volleyball.
“She was always bouncing or kicking a ball,” he recalls.
Alec was a standout player in three sports, playing wide receiver, cornerback and return specialist for the football team, was a starting guard on basketball teams that reached games state championship in 2009 and 2010 and a sprinter on the track team.
Some of Alec’s highlights included winning the regional Punt, Pass and Kick competition at Greeley when he was 12 years old. He also holds Chadron High’s record for most 3-pointers in a season with 82 in 2008-09, one more than Vonsinh Sayaloune sank in 2014-15.
All three lived in the Denver area for several years, but both girls moved back to their hometown.
Dionne is the director of Homer’s Eagles Roost, a hemp-derived program. Nickie Stowell, formerly of Gordon, works with her.
Courtney is a pharmacy technician at Peterson’s Drug. Courtney’s husband, Craig Steward, is a Denver-area firefighter who travels to Chadron when off duty. Their son, Roco, is 6 years old and is his grandfather’s friend. The couple’s second child is due this month.
Alec remains in Colorado and is a property manager for a large mortgage company in the Longmont-Boulder area. He is also striving to develop an audio engineering company and become a music producer for electronic media.
Mary works part-time at the Pine Ridge Job Corps Center.