Nevada is a community blessed by wonderful educators and coaches. And amid this collection is one so special and beloved that he earned the designated and instantly recognizable one-word name: “Coach.”
When you say “Coach” in the Nevada community, everyone knows you’re referring to William (Bill) Kellogg.
Now living at Indian Creek Assisted Living in Nevada, Coach has decorated his apartment with his favorite photographs and souvenirs from a life well-lived and well-played, you might say, especially when it comes to caring for young people. When asked if he understands the “difference” he’s made in so many lives, Coach said, “I don’t know that I have, but I know I’ve been trusted by a lot of kids. I hope I was able to show them about respect,” he said.
Coming to Nevada in 1967 with his wife, Patricia, who passed away in 2015, the couple made Nevada their home. It’s where they raised their two daughters and a son. “I told Pat when we came here, we’re not moving again,” he recalled.
Their first home in Nevada was at the corner of First Street and J Avenue. Their only other home and the one Coach just moved out of, was at the corner of 10th and J Avenue. The proximity of that home to Central Elementary School made it very easy for Coach to walk across the street for many years, helping teach or just volunteering with kids throughout his retirement years. He’s unsure whether he’ll be able to volunteer at the elementary during the coming year, but he’d sure like to.
“Being around kids,” he said, has probably kept him going all these years. “They have life in them. I just loved being around them and helping them get started on the right track. Every day (at school) has been filled with special moments.”
Coach was raised as one of nine kids in Norfolk, Neb. His dad was a railroad worker and rarely home, so raising the family was left to his mother, who Coach greatly respected. “My mom, God bless her, raised all nine of us. She was strict with us. What she said went.”
He and his siblings attended parochial school and were taught by nuns. “I have a sister who became a nun,” he said. His siblings are now deceased, and Coach said it’s hard to believe he’s the only one who survives out of the family.
Coach worked construction when he was young and then earned a scholarship to attend and play football at Wayne State Teacher’s College in Wayne, Neb. He says he still didn’t know what type of teacher he wanted to become, but his football coach encouraged him to think about coaching and teaching PE.
He met his wife, Pat, while in college. She graduated a year before him, and they married while Coach still had one year left of college. “She was teaching in Fremont, Neb., and I was a counselor in the men’s dorm, so I had a little apartment. She came on weekends and stayed with me.”
Once he graduated from college, Coach took his first teaching job in Laton, California, near Fresno. The couple was there for five years, adopting their first daughter while living there. “It was growing and getting too big, so we moved back to Nebraska,” he said. He taught in Nebraska for a while, but that area was growing, and they wanted to raise their children in a smaller community. Coach began looking for jobs and found one in Nevada, with the 1967-68 school year being his first as a high school PE teacher and an assistant football coach. He would also begin a long stint of coaching various sports and teaching driver’s ed for the district. He laughs when recalling his driver’s ed experiences. He noted that you learn a lot just by listening to the kids in the back seat talk during drive time. “They’d say, ‘Coach, what do you think about that?’ and I’d pretend I didn’t even know what they were talking about.” But, oh, the stories he could have told from all that he overheard! He laughs about that.
When asked when he officially retired, he can’t remember because he has continued to volunteer and help at the schools up to the present time. During his years with the district, he taught PE at pretty much every grade level. He was even at the Milford building for five years.
Through teaching and coaching, he became very familiar with local residents and farmers, including Ray Lounsberry. He began helping at Lounsberry’s farm and could be found there on many summer days and even evenings during the school year. “I did whatever Ray needed,” he said and noted that while growing up, he and his brother did a lot of farmwork on their aunt and uncle’s farm, so that type of work was not new to him.
In recent years, those who haven’t ever met Coach got to know him a bit through holiday greeting signs that Doug Vaughn made and hung on the tree in Coach’s yard. “I didn’t have anything to do with those signs, but I liked having them in my tree. It let people know that I cared about them,” he said. The signs have been preserved and moved to a new location in town, carrying forward Coach’s caring messages.
Regarding education today, Coach was asked if he has any advice for new teachers. He says he doesn’t want those in the schools to get too far away from needed discipline, and there’s a difference between discipline and abuse. “I’m not talking about beating kids. I’m talking about making sure kids know they have to do things the right way. Get to know the kids and don’t be afraid to correct them, that’s part of the job. You correct them because you care about them and want them to do things the right way.”
Coach corrected a lot of kids during his days in the Nevada Schools, which didn’t diminish their respect for him. He loves that many former students have stopped by to see him over the years. He hopes that people will continue to stop and see him at his new home, too.
He’s taken on an important job at Indian Creek Assisted Living as the “master gardener.” He gets out every day to water the beautiful flowers around the building. He also watches a lot of television, saying his favorite pastime is watching “westerns.” He also, of course, loves to watch sports. He watches the Iowa teams compete, but he’s still a devout Nebraska “Cornhusker” fan. That will never change.
Coach wasn’t willing to say his age during this interview. He’d only say, “I’m on the old age side.” He will say that what’s probably kept him around for so many years is young people. “Maybe it has something to do with working so long with God’s kids, and staying busy.”
The City’s “Difference Maker” series recognizes residents who’ve made a lasting impact in our community.
–Written by Marlys Barker, City of Nevada