Eastern Cornhusker Trapshooting Conference History

Sportsmanship    Academics    Citizenship

 

Mike Coe, a high school teacher at Crete, Nebraska, Luke Lueschen, a high school teacher at Fremont, Nebraska, and, Gayle Hanshaw, a computer programmer/analyst at the University of Nebraska, co-founded the ECTC in 1988 with the first season of competition in 1989. They were all like minded strong advocates of the promotion of core values to youth. The cornerstones upon which the ECTC was founded, were, and still are, "Sportsmanship - Academics - Citizenship". The founders saw the benefits of utilizing the natural discipline of trapshooting as a forum in which to link these values together with the Game and Parks' Young Hunter Safety program in promoting the notion of respect and responsibility.

Mike had started the Crete High School Invitational at the Crete Izaak Walton League in 1977, followed by Luke starting the Fremont High School Invitational at the Fremont Izaak Walton League in 1979. Gayle had attended the Cornhusker Nationwide Shoot for high schoolers, held at Doniphan, Nebraska, for several years before starting the Lincoln Izaak Walton League Invitational in 1981. They served as a loose federation of Shoot Directors who adopted a set schedule following the 1981 season, however, they did not start developing standard rules and regulations until the ECTC was formed. The Lincoln Gun Club Invitational was started in 1984.

The ECTC was started with four sanctioned Invitational shoots in 1989: Crete High School, Fremont High School, Lincoln Izaak Walton League and Lincoln Gun Club. In 1991, the Crete High School Invitational was held at the Lincoln Izaak Walton League and the Conference increased to five Invitational shoots with the addition of Doniphan Gun Club. In 1992, the Crete High School Invitational was moved to the Beatrice Gun Club and the Conference increased to six sanctioned shoots with the addition of the Crete Izaak Walton League Invitational. In 1993, the Doniphan shoot was snowed out. In 1994, the Doniphan Gun Club dropped out of the Conference before the season began but Valley Gun Club joined the Conference in their place. In 1995, Valley Gun Club dropped out of the Conference and Ashland Gun Club joined. In 1996, the Fremont Izaak Walton League purchased the Valley Gun Club so the Fremont High School Invitational was permanently moved to the Valley Gun Club site. Also, in 1996, the Crete High School Invitational, being held at Beatrice Gun Club, was renamed the Fairbury High School/Beatrice Gun Club Invitational. In 2004, the Fairbury High School/Beatrice Gun Club Invitational was renamed to Beatrice Gun Club Invitational.

There were 144 shooters in the first year of the Conference. By the thirteenth season (2001) the total number of participants in the Conference had grown to 455; representing 24 schools, three 4H clubs, and one gun club. Average participation at the six shoots in 2001 was 374. This growth amounted to a phenomenal 316 percent increase in the number of participants in the Conference.

Following the 2001 season the ECTC Board of Directors, in anticipation of continued growth, decided to split the Conference into Divisions with US highway 34 serving as the dividing line. In 2002, the number of sanctioned Conference shoot clubs was increased to eight with the addition of Bellevue Rod and Gun Club and Otoe County Wildlife Club.

At the end of the 2002 season the number of participants in the Conference had grown to 577, an increase of 27 percent over 2001 and an increase of 401 percent over the first year. The number of schools represented increased to 34, plus three 4H clubs and one gun club. Average participation at the shoots in 2002, based on total combined participation of both divisions, was 474. This was an increase of 100 over 2001.

The 2003 season was another banner year for growth. The total number of participants in the Conference increased to 675, up another 98 (17%) over 2002's record number. There was on average 555 shooters participating in the Conference on every Saturday over the six week schedule.

Records continued to be set in the 2004 season. The number of participants increased to 789, up by 114 (17%) over the 2003 total. The weekly average number of shooters participating in the Conference increased to 655. This growth occurred primarily in the North Division, so the Directors were again faced with the challenge of devising ways to keep the gun clubs from being overwhelmed by the number of shooters at their respective shoots. Discussions about possible solutions were centered around the creation of a third Division. Then, in October of 2004, the Directors met in special session and decided to create a third "Central" Division. Highway 2 became the dividing line between the South and Central Divisions, whereas, Highways 92, 6 and 370 became the dividing line between the Central and North Divisions. The Harry Koch Trap and Skeet gun club in Omaha was accepted as an ECTC sanctioned gun club effective with the 2005 season. This increased the number of Conference gun clubs to nine.

Another significant accomplishment in 2004 was the presentation of the ECTC "Hall Of Fame" plaque to the Nebraska Trapshooting Association (NTA) for permanent display in the NTA clubhouse at Doniphan.

The 2005 season was yet another record year. The numbers in the Divisions were naturally less than the previous year, however, the overall number of students participating in the three Divisions increased to 978, a whopping increase of 189 (24%) in just one year.

The Conference Board of Directors started out with nine directors, consisting of the four Shoot Directors, their assistants, and a 4-H representative. Through the years the makeup of the Board of Directors has evolved. The number of Shoot Directors increased to six, the Directors' assistants were dropped, and a Coaches' Representative and a Director-At-Large were added for a net total of nine Directors. Then, in 2002, with the addition of two new clubs, the number of Directors increased to eleven. The addition of the Harry Koch gun club increased the number of directors to twelve.

In 1998, the Conference Board of Directors approved a major step to linking the three cornerstones of the Conference by implementing an Academic Excellence program. Students who have attained a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or greater over the preceding Fall and Spring semesters; and have met the minimum Conference participation requirements of having participated at five of the six shoots, are bestowed with All Conference Academic Excellence. The first year there were 34 students recognized which was 13 percent of the total qualified students (260). By 2002, the number of students recognized had grown to 85, which was an impressive 20 percent of the total qualified students (433). By the seventh year (2004) of the Academic Excellence program, the number of recipients had steadily increased to the rate of 25 percent (147) of the eligible participants (598). This number increased again in 2005 to a whopping 191, 26 percent of the 749 participants eligible for All-Conference recognition.

Also, in 1998, a major event occurred in Nebraska High School trapshooting with the founding of the Central Cornhusker Trapshooting Conference. Patterned after the Eastern Conference, it started with four Gun Clubs holding six shoots: Doniphan (2), Crooked Creek (2), Cozad and Holdrege. Four schools which had been participating in the Eastern Conference decided to join the Central Conference because of being much closer to the Central Conference sites. These four schools in 1998 had 59 shooters. The Central Conference got off to a good start with a total number of participants of approximately 150 from eight schools.

The Eastern Conference Board of Directors decided to leave the matter of academic eligibility up to the schools because there is a wide variation of application between the schools. Participants are, however, required to be enrolled and attending full time in their respective schools. The eligibility form requires the signature of a school official (ie principal, athletic director or guidance counselor).

The Conferences does permit sixth graders to compete in the Junior High Division. The Conference also permits students attending a school without a trap team to transfer their eligibility to another school that does, with written approval from each school.

Mike Coe, elected as the first President, served from 1988 - 1991. He then remained as the Crete High School Coach and Director of the Crete High School Invitational until he retired following the 1995 season after having served for 21 years. Luke Lueschen served as the Conference Statistician as well as Coach of the Fremont High School Trap Team and Director of the Fremont/Valley Invitational until he retired following the 1996 season, after having served for 19 years. Gayle Hanshaw served as the Lincoln Izaak Walton League Invitational Shoot Director through the 1991 season. He was elected Conference President in 1992 and served in that capacity through the 2006 season; and served as Conference Statistician from 1997 through the 2004 season. Chuck Kopocis was elected to the Board in 2004, became the Conference Statistician in 2005, was elected President-Elect in 2006 and has served as President for the Conference since 2007.

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