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Former NHS football coach to join Missouri Sports Hall of Fame

Friday, November 9, 2012

By Eric Wade

Nevada Daily Mail

On Dec. 5, the Missouri sports Hall of Fame will welcome its newest inductees in a ceremony that will be held at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo.

This year's list of inductees includes eight individuals and three teams. Included on that list is former Nevada High School football coach Shane Cavanah.

"I have to admit that the first time the Hall of Fame called I did not answer the phone. I had been through about three of those political recorded messages prior, so when the caller ID did not identify who was calling, I just let it ring," Cavanah said. "Later that evening, they were able reach me and I was excited, humbled, and very appreciative."

Cavanah graduated from Marceline High School in 1959 and from Northeast Missouri State College (Kirksville, Mo.) in 1964, where he was a quarterback for the Bulldogs football team. He coached high school football in Missouri for 35 years and by the time he retired after the 2009 season, he had amassed a 255-119-3 career record.

Over his illustrious career, Cavanah took six different schools to the state football playoffs, winning 17 conference championships, 16 district championships, two state runner-up titles and one state championship while he was head coach at Princeton High School in 1968. He spent a total of four years coaching the Nevada Tigers in two different stints, from 1975-'76 and 1985-'86, in which he won 25 of 41 games and took the Tigers to a second-place finish in the Class 3A Missouri State Playoffs.

The Tigers won their first 12 games that season before falling to Rock Bridge High School (Columbia, Mo.) in the championship game. That was the best performance a Nevada High School football team has had in a season since the Tigers won the State Championship in 1966 and the team was inducted into the Nevada High School Wall of Fame on Sept. 10, 2010. Cavanah also was inducted into the Missouri State High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame in February 2000.

"Many good players and assistant coaches over the years have played a major part in me receiving this honor," Cavanah said of his newest accolades. "I'm excited about the group I am being inducted with because I have known most of them somewhere through the years."

Since retiring, Cavanah has been working as the morning sports announcer for 99.1 KDWD in Marceline, Mo., and continues to write stories from his experiences and points of interest he discovers from researching the past. He enjoys playing and singing in a local musical group and he and his wife, Cheryl, spend a significant amount of time keeping busy with their five grandchildren.

"I'm often asked, 'Do I miss coaching?' Yes, I do miss the kids," Cavanah said. Would I consider returning to coaching? If the right opportunity came along, I would probably take a serious look at the situation."

This year's other inductees include Dr. John D. Bailey, Bill Clark, Gary "Skip" Grossnickle, Gerald "Shag" Grossnickle, Darold Knowles, Ben Pitney, Bob Roberts and the 1969, '70 and '71 Northeast Missouri State football teams.

Bailey has been patrolling the sidelines for 22 Truman State University teams since 1997. As the university's sports physician, Dr. Bailey oversees the teams overall health and fitness and is the first one consulted when evaluating a player's injury. He received his Doctor of Osteopathy in 1990 and is a key advocate in Adair County's campaign against drug use.

Clark has spent time as a Major League scout, an umpire, founded the Heart of America Marathon, was one of the founders of U.S. Powerlifting Federation, served as Director of Parks and Recreation in Columbia, Mo., and since 1961, has been a sports columnist for the Columbia Tribune.

Gary Grossnickle, a product of Kirksville High School, was the starting quarterback for the varsity squad as a freshman. At the high school level, he went on to garner All-American honors in football and basketball. He continued playing football when he enrolled at Mizzou, where he earned All-Big VIII honors and starred in the 1966 Sugar Bowl.

Gerald Grossnickle is known by everyone in northeast Missouri as a hunter, a golfer, a keen fast pitch softball hurler, former sheriff and an all around conservationist. At Kirksville State Teachers College, he participated in football, baseball and track and is credited with introducing wild turkey in northeastern portion of the state.

Knowles, a Brunswick native, has been affiliated with eight Major League teams over the course of his career. He is best known for his days with the Oakland A's from 1971--'74, when his team won the division title all four years and three consecutive World Series crowns, starting in 1972. He holds the Major League record for pitching in all seven games of the 1973 World Series and posting a 0.00 ERA.

Pitney, of Hannibal, Mo., started his basketball career as an eighth grader pleading for the coach not to cut him. It ended with a four-year stint as the athletic director of Hannibal-LaGrange College. Between those two points in time, he played college basketball alongside the legendary Cotton Fitzsimmons, coached five years of high school basketball and 23 more at Truman State University.

Roberts has a resume that includes stops at Cairo and Atlanta, both of which he coached to state basketball championships. His combined boys' and girls' coaching record to date is 871-486. He is still active in coaching at Cairo.

The Northeast Missouri State Bulldogs were picked to finish no better than fourth in their conference in 1969, 1970 and 1971, but under Missouri Sports Hall of Fame coach Russ Sloan, won the conference outright in 1971 and shared the title in '69 and '70.

A cash bar reception at the Newman Catholic Center will be held from 3:30-5:30 p.m. The ceremonies, which will be held in the Georgian Room at the university's Student Center, will begin with a banquet at 6 p.m., followed by the enshrinement proceedings at 6:45 p.m.

Tickets for this year's enshrinement are $75 and can be purchased by calling the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame at (417) 889-3100.

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