Congratulations to a great coach

Monday, June 14, 2004

Sports fans in McCook and Southwest Nebraska are bursting with pride today following the selection of McCook High School's football coach, Jeff Gross, as the 2003-04 Nebraska High School Boys Coach of the Year.

The selection -- announced Sunday by the Omaha World-Herald -- is for all high school boys' sports, including football, basketball, wrestling, golf, tennis, baseball, soccer and track and field. What that means is that Jeff was chosen for the elite, statewide award from a field of well over a 1,000 coaches.

As great as the award is, those who know Coach Gross are not surprised he was chosen to be honored.

"He's a great teacher, a good person and the results are obvious," said McCook High School Principal Jerry Smith. Added Greg Larson, president of the McCook Board of Education: "This is a great award, not only for Jeff, but for the people of McCook and Southwest Nebraska as well. He has done a terrific job with both athletics and academics."

What sets Coach Gross apart is his ability to motivate students and athletes. "Right from the start, young men and women know he is on their side," Smith said. "They know he's there to help them, and they respond by performing very well."

For his part, Coach Gross expressed thanks to the McCook community for its part in building championship teams, telling the World-Herald: " ... regardless of class, McCook is one of the top 10 (coaching) jobs in the state. Year in and year out, we're going to be competitive."

That's typical of Gross. In times of outstanding accomplishment -- particularly the state football championships in 2002 and 2003 -- the coach brushes off praise for himself and calls attention to the contributions of his players, his coaching staff and the community. That's all true. He does have good players, excellent coaches and a supporting community.

But McCook and the Bison needed a leader ... a motivator ... to lift the school and community to the highest levels of accomplishment.

Jeff Gross is that person. We're glad he came to McCook to start his head coaching career in 1998, and happy he has stayed to build a championship program. By so doing, Coach Gross has not only motivated the young men in the football program, he has uplifted the entire town.

" ... we've kind of fallen in love with the community," Jeff told the World-Herald. The feeling is mutual, Jeff. You have inspired us with your energy, your enthusiasm and your commitment to excellence. We are proud of you and congratulate you for receiving this richly deserved statewide coaching award.

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