HASTINGS — The Bill Gavers’ era as head boys basketball coach at Grand Island Central Catholic has come to an end.
Hastings College announced Monday morning that Gavers would take over its men’s basketball program after spending the past 22 years at Central Catholic.
“Central Catholic was a great place,” Gavers said. “I spent 22 years of my life there. Hastings College is a great place. There are a lot of similarities between the two institutions. Both are very people oriented.”
It wasn’t a surprise. Gavers had been considered by most to be the leading candidate to replace Lance Creech, who announced before the season that this would be his last at Hastings College.
So when Hastings College athletic director Jerry Schmutte went looking for a coach, he didn’t have to look very far.
“Bill Gavers was a young man who was always on my list, and that was a good list by the way,” Schmutte said. “I knew if I needed a basketball coach, he’d be a young man I would have at the top of my list. When this job opened up, he moved way up the list if he wasn’t already there because of being a Hastings College grad.”
Gavers graduated from Omaha Bryan in 1984. He spent two years playing at Doane College before following his old high school coach Mike Trader to Hastings College.
Trader said the Broncos couldn’t have hired a better coach and man.
“For players, he has that ability to make them want to play harder, want to play better and bring out the best in them,” Trader said. “He just has that knack for bringing out the best in people, and I think that’s why you see his teams improve and his players improve from the time they’re freshman until they’re seniors.
“He just has an unbelievable gift. He had it as a player in high school. He had it as a player in college and he’s had it as a coach. He’s just one of those people who when you’re around him you just feel like you can do something special.”
Gavers’ ability to connect with people was one of the main reasons Schmutte wanted him at Hastings College.
“I probably received 10 to 15 to 20 letters and emails of support, unsolicited I might add, about Bill and what Bill has meant to either his teammates or maybe a friend and in a couple of cases opponents who sent a letter saying they would highly recommend this young man,” Schmutte said. “And most of it didn’t tend to deal with basketball. Most of it tended to deal with the kind of person Bill is, how he deals with his athletes, the relationship he has with just the students in general.”
Gavers put together an impressive resum é at Central Catholic. In those 22 years, he compiled a record of 421-127 with a Class C-1 state title in 2000 and a C-2 runner-up finish in 2008.
Gavers took the Crusaders to the state tournament 12 times during his career. He also coached the GICC boys tennis teams to five state titles, including four out of five from 1994 to 1998.
Gavers’ relationship with GICC activities director Howard Schumann is one of the things that has kept him at Central Catholic all these years.
“From my perspective it’s kind of bitter-sweet,” Schumann said. “Bill has been here 22 years and several years after he arrived, there was always speculation about him going to this school or that school. Bill had indicated there was really only one job he would be interested in if it opened up at some point and that was the Hastings College men’s basketball position.”
Trader said Gavers brings a lot to the Hastings College program, including an extra boost of credibility.
“I talked to a couple of coaches in Omaha today that called me today when they heard the news.
“He has instant credibility not only in Omaha, not only in Lincoln but certainly out state and that’s huge,” Trader said. “He’ll be able to call any coach any where and not only do they know him, but he’ll have that credibility of being someone most (high school) coaches would like to have their players play for.”
Gavers was a finalist for the Hastings College job 11 years ago that went to Creech instead. Gavers obviously wanted the job, but said it was just the way life works sometimes.
“It’s like when you lose a game, you get up the next day and go right back to work,” Gavers said. “You start thinking about what needs to be done. That’s just how you kind of approach it.
“We want a workman-like type of approach. If something bad happens, you hit a little adversity, you want to get right back to work and make it right.”
The college game will bring new challenges for Gavers, including managing the shot clock and coaching a 40-minute game made up of two halves rather than a 32-minute game comprised of four quarters.
There is also the matter of recruiting, but Trader doesn’t think Gavers will have any problems with that.
Gavers was an assistant to Trader for three years after his college career and helped recruit players like Eric Rasgorshem and Chad Spady who are now in the Hastings College Athletic Hall of Faeme.
“I don’t think people remember that,” Trader said. “Bill was out on the recruiting trail for three of four years so it’s not like he’s never done that.”
GICC could name new coach this week
Grand Island Central Catholic activities director Howard Schumann said a replacement for Bill Gavers as head basketball coach could be named later this week.
Schumann started looking into possible replacements back in October when Hastings College coach Lance Creech announced he was stepping down at the end of the season.
“Last fall when Lance announced his resignation, I knew right away that would be something that Bill would have an interest in,” Schumann said. “But once the season started he pretty much wanted to work with the players he’s working with. He expects them to give maximum effort and he will give maximum effort, so it was pretty much put on the back burner at that time until both seasons were over.”
Schumann indicated it would be best for everyone involved to get a new coach hired right away.
“Everybody associated with Central Catholic are concerned with the continuity and the way things are going to come together,” Schumann said. “I’m not going to say for sure what day it’s going to be, but I’d like to get it done this week.”