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Family Theme Surfaces at Northeast Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Family Theme Surfaces at Northeast Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

NORFOLK, Neb. – At the end of the recent Northeast Community College Hall of Fame induction ceremony, many of the honorees who attended gathered for photos, much like how families do for a special occasion.

In the center of one of the photos was new inductee Dawnn (Bernt) Tucker, flanked by Northeast’s Hall of Fame founder and former Athletic Director Jerry Holmberg, and current Athletic Director Jerrett Mills, who resurrected the Hall of Fame inductions after a lapse of more than 10 years.

Tucker reflected earlier during her acceptance speech on how Northeast was like a family when she went to school in the mid-1980s.

“Northeast was my home for two years,” Tucker said. “And I couldn’t have asked for a better home than to come here.”

It was fitting because both Holmberg, who was also inducted into the Hall of Fame, and Mills described Northeast as a place that sounded like a home as well as a college.

Judi Faunce was the Tucker’s head coach, and she her husband, Bill, helped Tucker on and off the court, where she was named an All American in the 1984 and 1985 seasons.

“Through the good and the bad, they were there for me. They helped me so much. It was because of them I became the person that I’ve become,” Tucker said.

Mills said he personally wanted to thank Holmberg, the Northeast veteran who helped provide guidance to him whenever he asked. It was not unlike how one generation gives praise to those who paved the way for them.

Holmberg, who started his career at Northeast in 1978 and filled a variety of responsibilities whenever asked, was among four people who were honored.

“You started this Hall of Fame and now you will forever be in it,” Mills said to Holmberg before introducing him.

When Holmberg gave his speech, he mentioned how nearly each of his family members had some connection to Northeast, including his wife, Elaine. Elaine got her start at Norfolk Junior College downtown for a year, then transferred to the University of Nebraska, earned her teaching degree, and later taught for the Norfolk Public Schools and business night classes at Northeast. She also worked part-time in career services.

Holmbergs’ oldest son, Greg, earned an associate of arts degree with a 4.0 and later transferred. The Holmbergs’ other son, Dan, took classes at Northeast during the summer while he was attending the University of South Dakota where he played football.

“He said without those classes (at Northeast), he wouldn’t have (graduated) in four years,” Holmberg said. “They were helpful to him.”

His sons even helped whenever they were short-handed at the concession stand during basketball games.

Holmberg said he feels honored to be included in the Hall of Fame, which has many great inductions but there are many more deserving to be inducted from the junior college days.

“I want to give credit to Jerrett Mills for getting this started again,” Holmberg said.

Mills said the mixture at Northeast has helped it to be successful – coaches, fans, families, boosters and of course, the athletes, the Norfolk community, and support from the service area.

“At Northeast, it’s a strong culture of people who care,” Mills said.

Two current student athletes were among the speakers. 

Sydney Redden, a sophomore from Wayne, who played volleyball at Northeast, said she almost didn’t attend Northeast. Redden said she wasn’t sold on the idea of attending college in Norfolk, growing up just 30 minutes away.

Volleyball Coach Amanda Schultze recruited her, however, and because Schultze was nice and the opportunity to play volleyball appealed to her, she decided to visit the college.

“When I stepped on campus, I was very impressed. I shouldn’t have been so quick (to form a negative impression). When I stepped on campus, I found out it was a hidden gem,” Redden said.

Along with all the athletic programs, Northeast is one of the top community colleges in the nation and offers more than 130 majors, Redden said. The faculty and staff are welcoming, she said.

And playing volleyball with others who share her love for volleyball has resulted in making some lifelong friendships and lifetime memories, Redden said.

Jeevan Purewal, a sophomore from Wolverhampton, England, played on the men’s soccer team.

Three years ago, Purewal said he had no idea that he would be in Nebraska, let alone Norfolk. He credited soccer and Northeast with helping him to experience life and play with great athletes from around the world.

“Every second of every day, it’s an experience I wouldn’t have wished for any other way,” Purewal said.

Two others were inducted into the Northeast Hall of Fame, Joe Peitzmeier for men’s basketball, and Paul W. Robson Jr. for men’s golf. They were unable to attend the ceremony and were honored at Northeast Community College’s final basketball games on Feb. 28.

Northeast President Leah Barrett provided a welcome for the ceremony, which took place Saturday, March 16, and included a dinner at the Lifelong Learning Center.

The following are biographies of this year’s inductees.

Dawnn (Bernt) Tucker – Women's Basketball

One of the top scorers in the history of women's basketball at Northeast, Dawnn (Bernt) Tucker was a two-time All-American during the 1984 and 1985 seasons. The Stromsburg native is currently fifth in all-time scoring with 1,084 points and third in rebounding with 563 rebounds. During the 1984-85 season, she averaged 23.4 points per game and as a freshman she tallied 21.9 points per game. She earned Region IX All-Region and All-Tournament Team honors each year she played. She continued her career at Wayne State College where she sits in the top-10 in multiple categories.

Joe Peitzmeier – Men's Basketball

Joe Peitzmeier, a native of Bloomfield and a graduate of Plattsmouth High School, guided the Hawks to a No. 1 ranking as the men's basketball team won the 1975-76 NLCAA National Championship with a 27-2 record that was played at the Norfolk City Auditorium. Peitzmeier was named an NLCAA All-American for his efforts on the court. He was also named to the NLCAA All-American Team, NLCAA National All-Tournament Team and the Omaha World-Herald First Team. Coach Chuck Stevenson also honored Peitzmeier by naming him Most Valuable Player and Most Inspirational Player. He has made a profound impact on education throughout Northeast Nebraska after finishing his basketball career at Wayne State College. Peitzmeier helped create the Pathways 2 Tomorrow (P2T) consortium with Northeast and Wayne State, while also serving as the executive director. He was the former superintendent at Oakland-Craig Public Schools and is the current superintendent at Scribner-Snyder Community Schools.

Paul W. Robson Jr. – Men's Golf

Former Northeast men's golfer Paul W. Robson Jr., a native of Watertown, S.D., etched his name into the men's golf record books after a stellar career for the Hawks. Robson was named a 1995 NJCAA All-American after competing in the NJCAA National Golf Tournament at the Alta Mesa Country Club in Mesa, Ariz. He was the individual medalist at the 1995 Region IX Men's Golf Tournament where he posted a 223 in the three-day tournament to earn a berth to the national tournament. He was the first Region IX medalist since 1990. At the national tournament, Robson finished in 15th-place, one of the top finishes in school history. He posted rounds of 79, 77, 72 and 70 on the par-72 course to end with a 298 total. He also took third in the long drive contest at the national tournament. Robson was also a Winter Royalty candidate in 1995.

Jerry Holmberg – Contributor

Jerry Holmberg, a native of rural Burt County, has served Northeast Community College in a multitude of roles. Holmberg began his career at the College in 1978 serving as the Director of Placement/Counselor through 2000. He also had additional responsibilities during his tenure that included Student Activities Coordinator, Concessions Stand Coordinator, Interim Dean of Student Services and Recruiting Assistant. He was appointed Athletic Director in Sept. 2000 and retired in June 2006. During his time as the Athletic Director, Holmberg created the Northeast Athletics Hall of Fame, with the first induction occurring in 2000. Holmberg was also honored with the 2020 Distinguished Service Award for helping write the history of the college in a book titled, "Success Started Here."

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Jerry Holmberg (left), and Dawnn (Bernt) Tucker (center), were two of the inductees into the Northeast Hall of Fame on Saturday, March 16. They are shown with Jerrett Mills (right), the Northeast athletic director. (Northeast Community College)