Burke High School Coach Gary Graner was among 11 inductees when Omaha Public Schools held its 12th annual Athletic Hall of Fame induction dinner on Nov. 18, 2017. Graner, a Manning native, played football, basketball and baseball and was awarded all-state basketball honors his senior year, graduating in 1974.
He played college basketball at the University of South Dakota from 1974-1978, graduating with a history degree, a teaching certificate and coaching endorsement.
Graner taught and coached at Omaha Burke High School for 33 years. When he joined Burke High School in the fall of 1978, he started as an assistant to John Johnette. In 1988, Graner became Burke High School’s second head boys’ basketball coach holding that position for the next 18 years. In those 18 years, his teams qualified for the State Tournament eight times and finished as State Runners-up twice, 1993 and 2000.
Graner loved challenging his athletes to not only excel on the basketball court but also in the classroom and daily life. The teams he coached played an exciting brand of basketball, which brought the community out in force. That excitement and success generated by his teams’ hard-nosed play, along with the promotion of youth basketball through summer basketball camps and clinics, resulted in Graner being honored with Burke High School’s Community Leader Award in 2000.
Regarding his award, Graner stated, “I was very humbled and honored to receive this award and extremely thankful to be able to work with and alongside so many talented players and coaches.”
Graner and his wife, Jessica (Zerwas) also a Manning native, have been married 41 years and all of their children: Matt, Steve, Michelle, and Alli live in the Omaha area.