Rebel Nation celebrated at Hall of Fame banquet

Former Gladbrook-Reinbeck Athletic Director Marv Cook (right) was honored as a Hall of Fame inductee with the 1988 G-R baseball team during the 2022 Hall of Fame banquet held on Jan. 8 at the Oak Leaf Country Club. Cook coached the team to a conference championship and an appearance at the state tournament. Presenting the Hall of Fame awards were current G-R Activities Director John Olson (left) and Booster Club President Kim Tscherter. – Photo by Darvin Graham

The Gladbrook-Reinbeck Booster Club Hall of Fame celebration returned this winter after a year hiatus in early 2021.

Close to 100 G-R Rebels gathered at the Oak Leaf Country Club near Reinbeck to honor a group of inductees that included past G-R athletic teams as well as fans, school volunteers and community members that had contributed in lasting and meaningful ways to the school’s extra-curricular programs.

The 2022 Hall of Fame Class included the 1988 Volleyball Team, 1988 Baseball Team, 1988 Cross Country Team and the 1989 Cross Country Team. Volunteers of the Year were Jodi and Shannon Clark. Also inducted was Hall of Fame Community Member Brian Tscherter and Hall of Fame Fans Ken and Shirley Storjohann.

During the award ceremony G-R Activities Director John Olson introduced each of the inductees and provided some history and context for their place in the Hall of Fame.

1988 Gladbrook-Reinbeck Volleyball Team

G-R alum Jeremy Thesing gave the keynote address during the 2022 Hall of Fame banquet on Jan. 8. Thesing is a 2001 graduate of Gladbrook-Reinbeck where he was active in several sports. Thesing lives in Reinbeck with his wife Erica and three kids Leila, Laken and Lael and works full time as a Vice President and Commercial Lender with Lincoln Savings Bank. – Photo by Darvin Graham

The 1988 Volleyball Team was one of the most successful teams in the history of Gladbrook-Reinbeck. In 1988 the Rebels qualified for state and finished as the 1988 Class 1A State Runner-up with a record of 34-7-2. The Rebels were coached by another previous Hall of Fame Inductee, Terri Luehring and were assisted by Marcia Koester.

Players on the team included Kritsen Anker, Cynthia Busch, Kim Clapp, Anne Flamme, Jenny Murty, Nikki Paustian, Paula Petersen, Angie Busch, Erica Earp, Misti Ellis, Cindy Horstmann, Danielle Sorenson, Lenda Walton, Karla Dixon, Stephanie Gethmann, Tonia Hein, Amy Johanssen, Sheresa Lynch, Melanie McIntyre, Teresea Peterson, Denise Petty, Tonya Randall, Susan Slevers, Kim Snow, Stacey Svendsen. Team managers were Chris Greiner and Jolene Clapp.

During the award presentation Luehring offered several memories and reflections on her experience helping to lead and coach the team.

She described how a questionnaire she sent her players in 2018 for the 30-year anniversary of the state tournament run revealed how impactful the community’s support was as they traveled around the state to cheer on the Rebels at away games and during the postseason.

“The one thing that they mentioned was the total community support and that support being behind them during the tournament trail,” Luehring said. “And I’ve been here long enough to tell you that the same Rebel Pride continues today no matter what sport you’re playing in. We’re all there. And that’s wonderful.”

Ken and Shirley Storjohann were honored as Hall of Fame Fans of the Gladbrook-Reinbeck Rebels during the Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Jan. 8. The retired couple have been a constant presence at G-R athletic events in recent years and were recognized for their support. – Photo by Darvin Graham

1988 Gladbrook-Reinbeck Baseball Team

The 1988 Baseball Team holds the honor as the first boys team in Gladbrook-Reinbeck history to qualify for state in any sport. The summer of 1988 was the end of the first year of Gladbrook-Reinbeck sharing sports as the following year they would join together as a school. The team was coached by G-R Hall of Fame Athletic Director Marv Cook.

This team had many athletes on it including letterwinners Paul Bowen, Mark Seinknecht, Doug Frost, Eric Wrage, Chris Swangel, Troy Holman, Brain Tscherter, Dan Fink, Robert Swangel, Bret Lauderbach, Brett Barfels, Ben Messerly and Jodi Storjohann as the Stat Manager. Mark Sienknecht and Troy Holman were the team’s top pitchers, with Sienknecht taking home the top honors as MVP of the conference. Doug Frost, Robert Swangel and Chris Swangel were the top batters on the team. The 1988 team won the conference and beat Grundy Center, Eldora-New Providence and Ackley-Geneva in districts to advance to sub-state. At sub-state they defeated Buffalo Center-Rake-Lakota and South Winneshiek to qualify for the state tournament. The team ultimately fell in the state tournament to Regina Catholic.

1987 and 1988 Gladbrook-Reinbeck Girls Cross Country Team

The 1987 Girls Cross Country Team will be remembered as the first team in Gladbrook-Reinbeck history to qualify for state in any sport. In 1987 Gladbrook-Reinbeck started playing sports together even though the schools were not combined yet. There were many challenges leading up to this and this team overcame all of these obstacles with their athleticism and work ethic. The team was coached by G-R Hall of Fame Coach Claire Handorf. Runners on the 1987 team Kris Griener, Lisa Kiehne, Ann Koster, Angie Handorf, Stacey Sash, Ellen Robertson, Staci WInterroth.

The 1987 team placed first at the Shellsburg and Jesup meets and got second place at districts to qualify for the state meet where they finished in 14th place. Lisa Kiehne was the top runner at state for G-R finishing 39th overall. Throughout the year, Kris Griener was selected as the Most Valuable Runner, Staci Winterroth improved her time more than anyone else and Ann Koster was selected as Most Promising Freshmen. This team also achieved Academic All-State honors with a team average of a 3.65 GPA.

The 1988 team was again led by Coach Handorf and consisted of runners Jenni Brandt, Angie Lage, Sarah Livingston, Julie Thesing, Stephanie Creswell, Denise Handorf, Ann Koster, Angie Handorf, Kris Griener, Stacey Sash and Karen Petersen.

The 1988 team placed first at the Shellsburg and South Tama meets and got third place at districts to qualify for the state meet where they finished 13th place. Denise Handorf was the top runner at state for G-R finishing 21st overall. Handorf was selected as the Most Valuable Runner on the 1988 team along with Karen Peterson was selected most improved. The team again earned Academic All-State honors with an average of a 3.61 GPA.

1989 Gladbrook-Reinbeck Boys Cross Country Team

The 1989 Boys Cross-Country team at Gladbrook-Reinbeck was also the beginning of a strong tradition of runners at G-R. This group of boys worked very hard and ended the year with a trip to the state meet.

The Claire Handorf and consisted of Marty Martens, Brett Casebolt, Chad Gould, Lance Herink, Chris Moe, Tony Sienknecht, Dave Strohbehn, Gary Korte, Ben Messerly, Mark Huisman, Tim Handorf, Ryan Fagan, Brian Dostal, Eric Casebolt.

The 1989 team placed third at districts to qualify for the state meet where they finished in seventh place. Gary Korte was the top runner at state for G-R finishing 4th overall. Korte was selected as the Most Valuable Runner along with Chris Moe who was selected Most Improved Runner.

Volunteer of the Year: Jodi and Shannon Clark

“The best way to explain Jodi and Shannon’s volunteer work is by watching what they have done over the many years here at G-R,” Activities Director John Olson said during the banquet. “Jodi and Shannon have helped with all sorts of activities and sports, but really have been helpful with the smallest things people don’t always see. Anything from helping serve meals for sports teams, helping at the scoretable, helping on the sidelines, getting their whole family involved to be a part of something bigger than themselves with their service. There are no words that can say enough for those who put others in front of themselves. The Clarks have always had an amazing influence on our athletics and have been extremely helpful to our school in more ways than one.”

Hall of Fame Fan(s): Ken and Shirley Storjohann

“Ken and Shirley have been huge supporters of Rebel games as they spend countless hours just being a fan,” Olson said. “They have attended almost all the football, volleyball, basketball and soccer games along with many other activities, always in support of the Rebels. People like Ken and Shirley are why G-R has the greatest fans. They are why we have such a strong Rebel Nation.”

Speaking to the crowd Ken Storjohann said he and Shirley made a conscious decision after he retired 12 years ago to find someplace every day to just get out of the house. He said they were thankful for a large family giving them opportunities to attend so many G-R events in recent years.

“We’re also thankful for all the coaches for the various sports,” Storjohann said. “They put in so much time and effort to get the most out of these kids so they can grow up and learn lessons in life. Good and bad.”

Hall of Fame Community Member: Brian Tscherter

Tscherter is a graduate of G-R and has always had a passion for baseball. Olson said he is one of the main reasons why baseball has been such a huge success at G-R.

“His work with the youth program over the many years can easily be seen as the kids grow up and enter into Junior High and High School,” Olson said. “Brian has spent countless hours over 30 years coaching the youth baseball teams and preparing them for the next level. He has organized, implemented, coached kids in T-Ball all the way up to travel teams and beyond. We can’t thank him enough for his contributions and dedication to youth baseball. Brian has always been and will continue to be a Rebel for life.

Thesing delivers keynote

Following the award ceremony Gladbrook-Reinbeck alum Jeremy Thesing gave a keynote speech where he reflected on his experiences growing up in the G-R community and how the community has stayed with him and impacted him and his family as an adult.

He described a recent 50-mile ultramarathon he completed in 2021 and what some of the motivations were that kept him going through days and weeks of training and several hours of competing.

As volunteer coach for 5th and 6th grade youth league football he said his constant message to those kids was to never give up and never back down.

“The run for me, wasn’t some sort of validation,” Thesing said. “It was a way for me to relate to my athletes. My hope was that it was a way for them to see firsthand that well, ‘Coach didn’t give up and coach didn’t back down. So when he tells me not to, I know that it must be possible for me to do the same.'”

The second motivation Thesing credited was the experience and life of his youngest child Lael who was born with a condition called arthrogryposis (AMC) that involves multiple joint contractures that prevented him from walking until he was three.

“He was my motivation because he can’t run, yet,” Thesing said. “And I wanted to run on his behalf, on that day to spend time praying that one day he might be able to run an ultra-marathon, if he wants to.”

Thesing went on to share about his internal challenges in Lael’s earliest years as he grappled with the reality of his child’s disability and the unknowns of the future.

He spoke about the encouragement he received from friends and family within the Gladbrook-Reinbeck community that counseled him to be patient and kind to himself as he was learning in real time how to be the dad he wanted and needed to be for Lael.

“Rebel Nation in the form of classmates, friends, former coaches, teachers, my employer, and my family showered me with positivity in that time,” Thesing said. “I specifically remember the way that you held Lael after he was first born, like he was absolutely perfect. Because he was and you believed that he was, but I was too blind to see it at the time and seeing you hold him like he was perfect and there was absolutely nothing wrong with him was vital for me to start the healing process in my own heart as it related to believing in myself as a father.”

Thesing wrapped up by charging young Rebels not forget to look in the rear view mirror and not be afraid to look back toward home when help is needed.