Personally Speaking

by H. Joe Weyand
“Johnny come lately, the new kid in town;
Everybody loves you, so don’t let them down.”
-- The Eagles*

In the winter of 1989, basketball fever raged through the community of Wahoo and the Weyand family had a big dose of it. Our family was already steeped in basketball as I was still coaching the girls team with my daughter, Julie (a sophomore) playing. My son was in 8th grade and playing on a Wahoops team -- the renowned program that is often credited with helping to produce the basketball talent that was emerging from Wahoo. Our most direct connection to the Wahoo boys team was senior guard, Cliff Kreizel. As commented on in the 1988 section, Cliff had been “dating” Julie then and in 1989, the relationship continued. By this time, the “dating” was officially allowed and we saw a lot of Cliff at the house. We were certain that the relationship would probably end when Cliff went off to college the next year, but were very comfortable with it at the time as Cliff was “a fine young man.” And he played basketball. So we attended most of the games during that ‘88-’89 season: Julie often sitting with her fellow students in the front row of the bleachers, Joel with his junior high friends, me on the floor with my camera, and our nine year old twins (Jaclyn and Jill) with Judy in the stands.

Having produced a highlight video for the boys team in 1988, and since we would be going to watch Cliff play, anyway, in 1989, I planned ahead and began doing some of my own taping of the games. It was pretty hit and miss during the regular season as the girls team schedule sometimes conflicted (practices and games). But I did manage to get a lot of footage. I didn’t get much of the early season games, and although I don’t remember for sure, part of that was probably also due to conflicts with Joel’s eighth grade games (played in November and December). As the season rolled on I couldn’t help but get caught up in the excitement of all those wins. And for someone who coached the game, it was a joy to watch the game being played at such a high level by a group of boys from a small community like Wahoo.

The girls district tournament was played a week before the boys and on the Thursday night prior to the start of the boys tournament, our girls team lost in the district finals to Plattsmouth. We had had a good season and had hoped for a return trip to the state. The loss was disappointing and as is typical of most teams, we lamented the end of our season. But the excitement of the boys district and their quest for a repeat championship was a good tonic. I was at all the games, video camera in hand, trying to catch all the hoopla on tape. As the boys cut down the championship nets we looked on and began planning the family journey to Lincoln, and along with all the others that night looking forward to another State Championship.

The weekend of the State Tournament was a hectic one for our household as Joel’s Wahoops team was entered in a Lincoln tournament. That eighth grade Wahoo team had been very successful and there was a strong chance the team would advance in the tournament -- and that created a problem. When we got to Saturday morning, we knew the Wahoo boys were facing Pius X at 7:00 that night. The Wahoops team played that morning and won -- their next game was also Saturday night (I think around 6:00) across town from the Devaney Center. Two of Joel’s teammates, Ryan Glock (Jason & Troy’s younger brother) and Justin Anderson (Coach Anderson’s son) served as managers on the boys team and there was no way they were missing the game. The Wahoops team was a combination of boys from Wahoo Public and Wahoo Neumann and the Neumann boys definitely wanted to play. The public school boys had a choice to make. Joel and a couple of the other Wahoo players decided to play and hope to make it to Devaney at least for part of the game. The rest of our family decided to go to Devaney, making sure we had seats for the game (going early for the 5:00 game -- a strategy that would become a Wahoo tradition). We had arranged for Joel to get a ride to the Sports Center after his game. As it turned out, Joel missed out on the most exciting game ever in Wahoo boys basketball history. He got to the Sports Center okay, but by the time he arrived, the doors were shut -- there was a capacity crowd.

Judy and the twins were in the second level, Julie and her classmates were front row, and I was on the floor with my camera (something that proved somewhat difficult with the tournament security staff). Along with the rest of the Wahoo fans we found our enthusiasm plunging into despair as the minutes ticked off in the fourth quarter and Pius answered every run the Warriors made. But as the climactic finish approached, the excitement recovered to its fevered pitch, with a corresponding rise in the noise level. Then there was that last 28 seconds that Troy Glock would describe as a “blur.” And I was taping it! Unfortunately, the next day I would discover the malfunction of my camera that minimized what I got on tape, not only from that game, but also the Syracuse game from the night before -- I’ll never know what kind of shots I actually got.

Being in that crowd, and especially down on the floor when the “richter roar” hit is truly indescribable. At the time, Coach Anderson had referred to the “roof coming off.” I remember that it was deafening -- for that few seconds after Troy Glock’s shot went through the net you couldn’t hear the person next to you. And I remember that in all that happened that last 28 seconds, I’d lost track of the score and I stood looking up at the scoreboard -- was it a three? Did we win? Is it a tie? Finally the board registered the 61 - 61 tie. And I remember declaring to anyone listening (probably nobody) -- “We’re going to overtime, we’re going to overtime!”

Certainly the overtime period presented a challenge, but when Ryan Eddie hit his three, the victory seemed inevitable. And as the game progressed towards that championship outcome, we all continually turned to each other, expressing “Can you believe this?” I don’t think the Wahoo faithful were aware at the time, but when the comeback was complete, Wahoo definitely had all but the Pius people on their side -- all the fans awaiting the Class A game and the nonpartisans were cheering on the underdog Warriors. That certainly contributed to the decibel level of the “roar.”

The Wahoo Warriors of 1989 were embraced by fans across the state; many just because of the improbable comeback they mounted. But there was also the “Wa-hoosiers” effect that carried over from the previous year -- the small community school conquering the big city bully, Lincoln Pius X. It certainly became fashionable to declare your Wahoo citizenship and await the enthusiastic comments about “that game.” As I moved in the circle of girls basketball coaches I heard many such comments. And as the program moved forward, I could claim an affiliation on both ends of that team: a player leaving, and another player entering. While we couldn't see it at the time hind sight tells us that Julie's relationship with Cliff was a little longer lasting; and I can say today that a member of our family was part of those first two championships.

For a father of an eighth grade player, it was only natural to start thinking of the next season, and the possibility of having my son participate in such a game on such a team. In fact, the whole Wahoo community was already anticipating the next run at the title. With starters Jason Glock and Hoffman back and the “super sophs,” Inbody, Eddie and Volin ready to step in, there appeared to be no end in sight. The only question mark was point guard -- how do you replace a Troy Glock? It is a testament to the fever that was Wahoo basketball at that time that as I looked up in the stands during several Wahoops games later that March that I saw many of the local “gray hairs” that had been so enthusiastically supporting the Wahoo Varsity. I would learn that some had come to check out “Joel Weyand -- the kid who could be our next point guard.” In all honesty, I have to admit that such expressions produced fantasies of future glory for my son. But, also being honest, those dreams were quickly tempered by the basketball coach side of me. I believed Joel was talented. I hoped he’d become good enough to play a prominent role for future Warrior teams. But at the time, I couldn’t imagine he’d be good enough as a freshman for Coach Anderson to give him the keys to what was clearly going to be a superior high school team. Eventually he would have a role, and as a matter of fact, the kid who couldn’t get into the arena in March of ‘89 would be on that floor for the ‘90 championship.

And when that team played, there would be many cheering for the win streak and for the “3-peat.” But I think the statewide support for the Wahoo boys might have peaked when they beat Pius X in 1989. Two consecutive championships, both over the big boys from Lincoln in thrilling fashion had made them the “newest thing.” But as more teams fell victim to the Wahoo juggernaut that continued running over Class B opponents the next several years, Wahoo would slowly take on the persona of the “bully” and more and more fans would be pulling for another underdog to take down the champions. When it happened, there wouldn’t be a “richter roar,” but there would be a resounding cheer -- even across town at Pershing Auditorium. The Weyand family would be there when that happened, just as we were there in ‘89. But in ‘89 all of Wahoo was basking in the glory of a second championship and as The Eagles sang, “They will never forget you ‘til somebody new comes along. Where you been lately? There’s a new kid in town. Everybody loves him, don’t they?”

* "A New Kid In Town" by The Eagles
The Skit
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At the pep rally following the State Championship victory, the girls basketball team put on a skit in honor of the boys team.
It was fashionable in 1989 for the girls to wear the guys jerseys to the games. My daughter, Julie, is wearing Cliff Kreizel's jersey. Five years later, she'd wear a ring.

Justin Anderson and Joel Weyand sit in the bleachers before the District Championship game. They had both probably came straight to the game from a Wahoops practice. Both would be in Warrior uniforms the next season.

My daughter Jaclyn (or maybe it's Jill) tells us Wahoo is #1 just before the Pius X game.
My wife, Judy, in the stands before the Syracuse game at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.