Valley ties to NIAA Hall of Fame
There will be some Carson Valley flavor when the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) holds its Hall of Fame induction ceremony on March 22 in Reno.
The NIAA’s 26th induction ceremony will be held at the Peppermill Resort Casino & Spa. The Thursday night event is set for 6 p.m. with Chris Healy, serving as master of ceremonies.
“The 10 individuals we are inducting have contributed greatly to high school athletics in Nevada as an administrator, athlete, coach, contributor and/or official,” said Bart Thompson, NIAA executive director. “They have made a positive impact on the young men and women of our state in some very important ways, and they have helped to make many of their dreams come true.”
Brianne Durfee (McGowan) and Paul Gray have family ties to the Valley. Durfee’s grandfather, Ron Wilcks, and uncle, Todd Wilcks, are members of Douglas High School’s Football Hall of Fame; her mother, Paige Wilcks, was a state tennis champion for Douglas; and cousin Kaycee was a softball standout. Gray, who played for Carson High’s 1975 AAA state championship basketball team, is the younger brother of Jerry Gray, a Douglas Basketball Hall of Fame inductee (co-AA Player of the Year for the Tigers’ state runner-up team in 1971). And Bateman was a long-time assistant football coach at Douglas.
The inductees at a glance:
■ Durfee (McGowan) set numerous state pitching records in softball at Wooster High School. Her name is listed multiple times in the wins, strikeouts and earned run average categories in the state high school record book. She was a four-time all-state pitcher who led the Colts to four straight state titles in 2000-03. She was also an all-region selection in basketball and volleyball, earning 12 varsity letters, and was twice named Gatorade State Player of the Year. Brianne went on to earn All-America honors at Oregon State University, helping the Beavers to the 2006 College World Series. She now coaches for the Nevada Wolf Pack.
■ Gray served as Reed High School’s varsity boys basketball coach for 18 seasons (1988-2008, with one season of absence in 2001). He had previously worked as the freshman coach (1982-83), the junior varsity coach (1983-84 and 1984-85) and as a varsity assistant (1985-86 through 1987-88). Gray’s teams qualified for the region tournament 15 times in those 18 seasons, capturing three championships and finishing as the runner-up three times. Gray, who concluded his Reed coaching career with a 331-152 record, was twice honored as Coach of the Year in the North. Reed’s gymnasium floor was dedicated as “Paul Gray Court” in 2010.
■ Bateman served as athletic director at Carson High School from 2009-16 and as head football coach at Carson from 1993-2000, compiling a 44-30 record. Bateman was the head track and field coach at Carson for eight years and led the girls program to its only two state championships (1982, 87). He also assisted with the Carson football program from 1977-80, the Douglas football program from 1981-92 and again from 2001-07, and back at Carson from 2008-13. He hosted numerous region and state championships at Carson in a handful of different sports for the NIAA.
■ David Gelmstedt, who passed away unexpectedly on Jan. 4, is known for his success as Mineral County High School (Hawthorne) girls basketball coach from 1985-2003. He began in Hawthorne in 1982-83 as the junior varsity football coach. He also assisted with the softball program for 13 seasons (1985-97, winning state titles in 1994 and 1995), served as head football coach for two seasons (1985-86) and worked as student council advisor for 10 years (1993–2003). Gelmstedt’s varsity girls basketball teams won 10 state championships and 11 conference titles and the Serpents were 393-84 during those 18 seasons. He was a 10-time Nevada Coach of the Year.
■ Joe Humasti led Incline High School’s girls golf program to nine state championships, including five straight from 2012-16, and two state runner-up finishes in 27 years. His girls golf teams also captured 13 region titles between 1991-2017. Humasti coached the Incline boys golf team to two state championships (1993 and 2015) and four division titles from 1991-2016), and the Incline ski teams won four state crowns over a 10-year period (2004-13). He coached 10 different individuals to state titles, including Katelyn Wright to four straight girls golf victories (2006-09). Humasti, a multi-time golf Coach of the Year, was bestowed with the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe’s Human Spirit Award in 2015.
■ Steve Ranson worked as a radio news announcer and play-by-play sportscaster for KBET Radio in Reno from 1968-74, as a sports reporter for the Wells Progress newspaper from 1976-83 and as the sports editor and editor in Chief for the Lahontan Valley News newspaper in Fallon. Ranson’s reach into the high school activities and athletics realm extended beyond his contributions as a member of the media. Ranson served as the student council advisor at Wells High School and had coaching stints at Wells (1976-82, junior varsity head and varsity assistant for football) and Churchill County (1987-90, freshman head and junior varsity assistant for football) high schools.
■ Richard Peraldo was a three-sport athlete at Humboldt County High School (Winnemucca) and boys basketball coach at Sparks High School. He earned four varsity letters in baseball (starting all four years while pitching and playing shortstop), two in basketball and two in football. Peraldo, who earned all-state status in all three sports, was inducted to the Winnemucca Hall of Fame in 2000. In 12 years (1977-89) at Sparks, he celebrated two conference titles and two zone runner-up trophies. Peraldo’s other head coaching duties included 17 years of girls golf (1977-94), 10 years of boys golf (1989-98) and three years of softball (1986-88) at Sparks.
■ Mark Smith not only contributed to high school athletics as a long-time track and field coach and assistant varsity football coach, and was also involved with special needs student-athletes during his teaching career. Smith served as the assistant varsity football coach at Wooster High School from 1989-2000 (helping the Colts to state championships in 1994 and 1995). He worked as the head boys and girls track and field coach at Wooster from 1989-2002, at Bishop Manogue High School for the 2003 and 2004 seasons (state championships) and at Reno High School from 2005-15. Smith was bestowed with the Nevada Distinguished Educators for Professionalism Award in Teaching in 2007.
■ James Whisman was an athlete at Sparks High School, coach at Reed High School and basketball official for 28 years in Nevada. In baseball, Whisman was a four-year varsity starter, three-time all-state selection and twice named conference player of the year. Whisman was Sparks High’s Athlete of the Year in 1967. He played two years of baseball at Nevada (pitcher and shortstop) and six years professionally in the Kansas City Royals’ and New York Mets’ farm systems. Whisman coached 12 seasons of girls golf (one zone title), three seasons of boys golf (one zone title), 10 seasons of varsity baseball (two zone titles) and four softball seasons (four zone titles and three state championships) at Reed.
■ Worth Nelson came back to teach and coach at Battle Mountain High School, where he graduated in 1979. He coached basketball (junior varsity boys, varsity girls and varsity boys) from 1989-2013 and varsity baseball from 1990-2015. He accumulated more than 400 total victories as a basketball coach, winning three league titles and two state runner-up trophies along the way. Nelson posted a 445-273 record as the baseball coach, garnering eight league crowns, one state championship and six state runner-up finishes. He was a two-time coach of the year recipient in basketball and two-time state coach of the year in baseball. All told, Nelson finished his 26-year coaching career with more than 850 wins.