Tag Archives: Sioux City

Scuba Diving, Kayaking, & Wheelchair Rugby

May 3, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When Jon Schuetz moved to southwest Florida from the Sioux City area in 2006, he leased a house four blocks from the beach to enjoy everything the ocean had to offer, like swimming, kayaking, and snorkeling.

“Scuba diving—that was always something I wanted to get into. But I never took advantage of it, being that close to the ocean when I was down in Florida,” he says. “I had to get certification in Omaha, Nebraska, where there are no oceans nearby.” In 2016, Schuetz finally went scuba diving in the open ocean off Cayman Brac.

The experience was more than just a fulfillment of a decade-old desire. Schuetz’s time in Florida had been cut short after a 2007 motorcycle accident resulted in a spinal cord injury and paralysis. Scuba diving seemed like an impossible wish in the weeks after his accident, when Schuetz didn’t know how he’d be able to brush his teeth, dress himself, and get around independently as a quadriplegic.

After a total of five weeks of intensive and acute care in a Florida hospital followed by five weeks of acute care at a Sioux City hospital, Schuetz transferred to Quality Living Inc., a post-hospital center for brain and spinal cord injury rehabilitation in Omaha.

“I was definitely not ready to go home after the hospital,” he says. “We were looking for the next step in my recovery and were fortunate to find QLI, where I spent six months.”

It took 40 minutes to put on a pair of shoes at the beginning when Schuetz could barely push himself a few feet in his wheelchair, so the initial focus of rehabilitation was to regain his independence. With intensive physical and occupational therapy, Schuetz was able to master everyday tasks.

“It was at QLI where I gained the strength to realize I could be successful in life after a traumatic accident,” Schuetz says.

Over time, he set bigger and broader goals. The former athlete became an athlete once again; besides scuba diving, he has participated in several half-marathons via wheelchair, has kayaked using an accessible dock at Lake Cunningham, and plays in a wheelchair rugby league.

“For me, it was important to be competitive again, to feel like an athlete. For 30 years of my life I was a competitive athlete and just being part of that camaraderie of a team again, that’s huge,” he says.

Being physically active can assist circulation, muscle tone, bone density, and even digestion for a person in a wheelchair, says Ed Armstrong, an adaptive sports and recreation specialist for QLI. Plus, returning to the meaningful activities that enrich one’s life is an important part of long-term recovery.

“It’s about living and not just surviving,” Armstrong says. “We’re all trying to have a fulfilling life.”

During Schuetz’s hospitalization, his life took another unexpected turn when he met a woman (Erin Olson) through friends who stopped by for a visit.

“We had a very genuine conversation and discovered that we had a lot in common. Erin was so spiritual, kind, and compassionate. Even in my condition she did not see me as a person with limitations. Erin would come back to visit me a number of times…As we got to know each other, Erin became my dearest friend,” he says. “This new relationship was the positive influence I needed to push me toward my recovery goals.”

Some adaptations were made to Erin’s house; Schuetz moved in after his discharge from QLI and they began working with a contractor to build an accessible home. A proposal soon followed.

Then came the news that a baby was on the way.

“I had the type of injury where we didn’t know if having kids would even be an option. When we found out about the first one we were ecstatic,” Schuetz says. “And then we ended up having three more.”

The Schuetzes’ four boys are now between the ages of 2 and 9.

“Life got busy in a hurry,” Schuetz says. “They’re into everything, just like I was growing up—all the sports and 4-H activities, Boy Scout meetings, practices and games, doctor and dentist appointments…My wife and children are a reminder each day of how blessed I am. I was given a second chance, to never take anything for granted, or let a moment slip through my fingers.”

In 2010, Schuetz became certified (through the Christopher Reeve Foundation) as a peer mentor and returned to QLI—this time as a staff member—to help launch a new mentoring program. His wife is a teacher, so the couple has chosen to remain in the Sioux City area as Schuetz commutes to Omaha two days a week.   

“It’s 90 miles one way for me, but if I’m helping somebody out and they don’t have to learn something the hard way, that makes the drive nothing,” he says.

Armstrong says one of QLI’s goals is “to get people who’ve had a life-changing traumatic event back to the things they love.” For Schuetz, who helped craft the adaptive sports program, it was competitive sports, but for others it’s been a spectrum of activities including fishing, adaptive biking, archery, yoga, golf, go-cart racing, and rock climbing.

“We found that adding those activities to daily therapies for people, they’re more upbeat, they work harder, and they were setting more quantifiable goals for themselves,” Schuetz says. “I always tell people it’s a ‘technical problem.’ You have the vision of what you want to do, and we figure out the how.” 

“Jon inspires all of us with his spirit and his wisdom and his patience. He takes the time to listen, and people share with Jon,” Armstrong says. “He can offer advice, support, and guidance for this rehab journey, which is uncharted territory for everybody; no one expects this to happen to them.”

“I enjoy mentoring,” Schuetz says. “If I can be helpful to someone who’s rebuilding their life, just share my experiences and any resources I have that might make an impact on their journey toward their own independence, I’m definitely happy.”  

Visit qliomaha.com for more information.

This article was printed in the May/June 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Little Steps

October 24, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Blair Hagmann wanted to help redecorate the house. One chubby hand snatched the cream-colored privacy curtain near the front door. This blue-eyed and blonde-haired beauty missed the first few times, stumbled, but didn’t give up. She grasped the cloth in one tight fist—and pulled. It tumbled down.

Mission accomplished.

Blair, who just turned 1, has done this before. Her mother, Kristin, laughs and lifts her daughter into her arms. The Hagmann’s ranch-style house is ideal for little ones just learning to walk.

“We are lucky. We only needed one baby gate,” Kristin explains.

A house wasn’t really on the agenda after the former Kristin Stensland married Nick Hagmann, but a four-bedroom and three-bath residence in Elkhorn caught their attention.

“I fell in love when we walked through it,” Nick recalls.

The Hagmanns saw potential in the brick and light tan house, built in 2006. Yet Kristin felt the dark-green walls upstairs and the baby-blue basement just did not feel like home. The drab decorations didn’t embrace a comfortable and cozy feeling. Five months later, enter interior designer Lindsey Anderson.

The family is not into impulse shopping. 

“My husband is a perfectionist. We do things right the first time,” Kristin explains.

Nick knows he is in trouble when his wife finds an item because she waits until it is just the right fit. The couple saves money this way, but it also makes them appreciate each scrutinized purchase. 

Anderson was a compatible match as well. Nick originally opted for a travel theme, but his wife had other ideas. She wanted unique and individualized items. Anderson helped the couple find eye-catching lamps, end tables, and furniture.

Storage space is ample and necessary, especially with a child exploring every nook and cranny. A smooth wooden trunk at the base of the sofa is filled with fluffy blankets and baby books. A flat screen television sits on a black hutch, which hides electronics, more books, and remotes. A gas fireplace warms the space on chilly days. It is ideal for these two homebodies who like to relax after a long work week and watch Friday night movies with pizza or snuggle while watching The Real Housewives on Bravo.

“We make use of the space,” Kristin says.

Empty space in the glass-paneled cabinets in the kitchen were replaced with bright white decorative glassware. A snowy runner brings out the dark wood of the dining room table, along with a cotton bouquet and candles. The kitchen island countertop is a mixture of blacks, golds, and grays. Blair’s high chair is hooked on. She isn’t a fan…yet.

Kristin added weaved storage baskets with a pillow proclaiming “Home” in the front entryway. The walls in the living room, kitchen, and basement were painted a light beige. Each room is understated and utilized.

Kristin, 37, and Nick, 39, planned ahead for a possible family addition. The guest bedroom walls were coated a neutral light blue. Once Blair came into the picture, it was transformed into a nursery. Two small, lime green chairs are hand-painted with pink roses. A wide mirror provides needed depth. The chairs and mirror were created by Robin’s Nest in Springfield. Kristin’s great-great-grandmother’s rocker was reupholstered in Sioux City with a navy and white checkered cushion.

Originally, the big basement was meant to be a man-cave for Nick. The couple decided on a pool table and a floating bar, but it was never ordered. The couple is currently thinking of the space as a play area for Blair, with possibilities of a toy chest and cabinets in the room. 

“She will probably want to move down here as a teenager,” Kristin jokes.

Right now, it is the “mother-in-law suite.” The grandparents can relax in the guest bedroom. The bed is an antique from a relative, as is the distressed dresser. The bathroom and kitchen gives guests moments of privacy.

The basement still has hints of a man-cave, with a bar area that includes modern wooden stools. Nick saw the same stools at Blatt Beer and Table and searched the internet to find them.

They can also drink beers with friends while watching Husker football on the 75-inch television. The soft tan, L-shaped sofa sinks in luxurious comfort. A yellow throw and purple checkered pillows add just the right pop of color.

The three, though, still spend most of their time upstairs—cooking, hanging out, or grilling outside. The deck overlooks a small wooded area and a creek. A fence might be the next addition since Blair is getting older. Adding improvements a little at a time to the house helps the pocketbook and makes every choice meaningful.

“It just feels complete,” Nick says. “Like it’s our home.”

This article published in the 2017 September/October edition of OmahaHome.

The Origins of the Nebraska National Guard

May 15, 2017 by
Photography by contributed by Nebraska National Guard

Wanderings of a lame cow set in motion forces that led to the establishment of the Nebraska National Guard.

“It started when President Franklin Pierce signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, creating the Nebraska Territory and opening the frontier to settlers. That summer, an ill-fated bovine wandered from a Utah-bound Mormon wagon train into a large Sioux camp southeast of Fort Laramie (at the time located within Nebraska Territory, now Wyoming), where it was subsequently killed and eaten by young tribesmen. Demanding the arrest of those responsible, the Mormons reported the incident to Lt. John Grattan, the inexperienced leader of Fort Laramie’s U.S. infantry regiment.

Chief Conquering Bear (Brulé Lakota) refused to surrender the young men who had killed the cow, explaining they had done nothing wrong; the cow had voluntarily entered their camp, and, besides, the supposedly guilty men were visitors belonging to another band of Lakota, the Miniconjou. Grattan’s regiment opened fire and mortally wounded Conquering Bear; however, the infantry proved no match for the Brulé warriors, who completely annihilated the military detachment, killing Grattan and his 29 men. Author Douglas Hartman explains the anecdote in his book, Nebraska’s Militia: The History of the Army and Air National Guard.

The “Grattan Massacre” (aka “the Mormon Cow War”)—and the federal government’s failure to fulfill treaty promises—incited bands of Sioux to continue terrorizing settlers on the Mormon and Oregon trails. To augment federal troops, on Dec. 23, 1854, acting Gov. Thomas Cuming issued a proclamation creating the Nebraska Territorial Militia, which later became the National Guard.

The proclamation recommended “the citizens of the territory organize, in their respective neighborhoods, into volunteer companies,” which were grouped into two regiments: one north of the Platte River and one south. Cuming further instructed, “Companies are not to use force in invading or pursuing hostile tribes, but only in self-defense, and then no longer than necessary.”

Funding did not exist, however, so the early militiamen were expected to provide their own arms and equipment. By spring 1855, the state’s first organized units were formed: the Fontanelle Rifles in the town of Fontanelle, some 40 miles north of Omaha, and the Otoe Rifles in Nebraska City. Nebraska Gov. Mark Izard ordered the Rifles to protect Fontanelle, Elkhorn City, and Tekamah after “the Sioux” killed two area settlers. The Indians were nowhere to be found when the militia arrived, so troops spent the summer catching large-channel catfish from the Elkhorn River while “protecting” settlers. This became known as the “Catfish War,” writes Hartman.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Nebraska militias became more involved in fighting against tribes, since most of the nation’s federal military was consumed by the war, says Jerry Meyer, historian for the Nebraska National Guard. Additionally, two Nebraska volunteer militia units fought for the Union in the Southeast.

When Nebraska achieved statehood March 1, 1867, it joined a nation in transition. With the war over, potential recruits had little interest in joining formal militia units, which the new state couldn’t afford to equip anyway.

Nebraska relied on loosely organized, independent militias until 1881, when legislation reorganized them into the Nebraska National Guard, increasing its role as a peacekeeper during times of civil unrest, settling conflicts with Native American tribes, and deploying the first Nebraska troops internationally for the Spanish-American War.

The Nebraska Militia of 1854-1867 wrote the opening chapters of an ongoing legacy of service to the nation, state, and communities. The tradition continues with today’s modern Nebraska Army and Air National Guard, says Lt. Col. Kevin Hynes, spokesman for the Guard’s Public Affairs office.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, more than 10,000 Nebraska National guardsmen and airmen have supported missions overseas and within the United States. When not on federal active duty, the service members remain in Nebraska, available to local authorities during emergency situations.

The Guard was instrumental in protecting Omaha and other Nebraska communities, for example, during the 2011 Missouri River flood, which threatened Eppley Airfield and OPPD power plants. The summer-long flood closed numerous traffic bridges, making it impossible to cross the river for more than 100 miles between Sioux City and Omaha, and between Omaha and Kansas City. Hynes says guardsmen provided surveillance and bolstered levees, and they also provided security for evacuated homeowners.

Currently, the Nebraska Army National Guard is undergoing its largest force restructuring in 20 years. Affecting about 1,100 Nebraska soldiers–or roughly one in three–the changes are bringing in new military occupational specialties, such as engineering and military police.

The realignment will provide current soldiers and those interested in joining with better opportunities for personal and professional growth, from the time they enlist until the time they retire, without having to travel extensively from their hometown communities.

The Nebraska National Guard Museum, located in Seward, Nebraska, is a prime resource for National Guard history, research, and local entertainment. Visit nengm.org for more information about the museum.

Famous Omaha Guardsmen

Warren Buffett

Long before becoming the “Oracle of Omaha,” he was simply Corporal Buffett, enlisting with the Nebraska Army National Guard in 1951 after graduating from Columbia University. The future Berkshire Hathaway founder served six years as a pay specialist, telling the Prairie Soldier newspaper that his financial background probably had something to do with the assignment. One of about 70 members of the Omaha-based 34th Infantry Division Headquarters Company, Buffett told the newspaper of the Nebraska Army and Air National Guard that his fellow guardsmen were “as good of a group of guys that you could’ve found.”

Andrew Jackson Higgins

Expelled his senior year from Omaha’s Creighton Prep for brawling in the early 1900s, Higgins later was praised by President Dwight Eisenhower as the man who won World War II. He designed and built the “Higgins Boat,” a landing craft that unloaded troops across open beaches instead of at heavily guarded ports. This Allied attack strategy was pivotal to the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Higgins served in the Nebraska Army National Guard, attaining the rank of first lieutenant, and learned about boat building and moving troops over water during militia maneuvers on the Platte River. A historical marker honors him in Columbus, Nebraska.

Visit ne.ng.mil to learn more about the Nebraska National Guard.

This article printed in the May/June 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.

2017 May/June Explore

May 1, 2017 by and


Buddy Guy. May 4 at Lied Center for Performing Arts, Lincoln. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and six-time Grammy Award winner Buddy Guy will showcase his highly acclaimed guitar talent and vocals. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $20-$55. 402-472-4747

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. May 12 at Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln. Country music’s famous married couple are touring the U.S. together for the first time in a decade on their “Soul2Soul World Tour 2017.” 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $86.50-$217. 402-904-4444

Migratory Bird Day. May 13 at Arbor Day Farm, Nebraska City. Learn about the impressive journey some birds take through migration each year. This event will feature crafts and games. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission: $8 adults, $6 children (3-12), free to children 2 and under. 402-873-8717

Motherless Daughters Retreat. May 13 at Red Road Herbs Retreat & Learning Center, Stanton. This retreat is to support and encourage women of all ages who have lost their mothers. Women will share memories through storytelling, photos, poetry, and prose. 1-5 p.m. Registration: $40. 402-640-0744

Free Park Day. May 20 at all Nebraska state parks and recreation areas. Free entry and fishing in all Nebraska state parks, state recreation areas, and state historical parks. Individual parks and recreation areas will hold special events. Regular park hours apply. 402-471-0641

Def Leppard, Poison, and Tesla. May 24 at Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln. Hard rock fans will enjoy this show, which promotes Def Leppard’s new album, And There Will Be a Next Time. Poison fans will see all four members of the original band reunited for the first time in more than five years. 7 p.m. Tickets: $29-$122. 402-904-4444

Move—Beyond. May 24 at Lied Center for Performing Arts, Lincoln. Dancing with the Stars performers Julianne and Derek Hough will bring fans on a journey of dance and music, taking inspiration from the four elements—earth, wind, fire, and water—as an exploration of the human relationship with nature. 7 p.m. Tickets: $59-$649. 402-472-4747

60th Annual Spring Flea Market. May 27-28 in Brownville. This village-wide flea market is full of antiques, art, collectibles, plants, food vendors, and community fun. Expect to find lots of treasures, from 19th-century books to 1960s car parts. 402-825-6841

Ogallala Invitational Drover Golf Tournament. June 3-4 at West Wind Fold Course and Bayside Golf Course, Ogallala. The 13th annual Ogallala Invitational Drover Golf Tournament has an entry fee of $125 per person for two days of golf, golf carts, range balls, and two meals. 9 a.m. 308-284-4487

Archie’s Late Night Party. June 8 at The University of Nebraska State Museum, Lincoln. This all ages event invites families to stay up late at Morrill Hall. Guests will learn about natural history and science through hands-on activities. 6-10 p.m. 402-472-2642

Get Outdoors Day. June 10 at Arbor Day Farm, Nebraska City. In celebration of National Get Outdoors Day, Arbor Day Farm will hold numerous outdoor events including a scavenger hunt, agility activities, and crafts. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission: $8 adults, $6 children (3-12), free to children 2 and under. 402-873-8717

The Swedish Festival. June 16-18 in Stromsburg. The annual festival, in the “Swede Capital of Nebraska,” will include Swedish food, costumes, dancing, free entertainment, sports tournaments, a carnival, parade, car show, and more. 1-8 p.m. Friday; 7 a.m.-midnight Saturday; 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Admission: free. 402-764-5265

International Mud Day. June 24 at Arbor Day Farm, Nebraska City. Arbor Day Farm celebrates International Mud Day with educational opportunities and a chance for kids to make mud paintings and sculptures. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission: $8 adults, $6 children (3-12), free to children 2 and under. 402-873-8717


Maifest. May 6-7 in the Amana Colonies. Witness dancing around the Maypole and lots of music while dining on, or sampling, German food and wine in this quaint series of villages. See free demonstrations at the furniture shop, woolen mill, and other areas. Admission: free.

Tulip Festival. May 18-20 in downtown Orange City. Thousands of tulips will be in bloom during this festival. This ethnic festival features music and dancing by children and adults in authentic costumes, two daily parades, a nightly musical theater, a carnival midway, Dutch delicacies and other food, and an art fair. 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday. Admission: free. 712-707-4510

Red Hot Chili Peppers. May 23 at Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines. This Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Grammy Award-winning group are touring to promote their most recent album, The Getaway. Irontom and Jack Irons will perform as special guests. 8 p.m. Tickets: $50-$100. 515-564-8000

Steel Magnolias. June 2-18 at the Des Moines Community Playhouse, Des Moines. This story is about six unlikely friends in the South who entertain with lighthearted conversations until tragedy strikes and brings them face-to-face with their mortality. Tickets: $25-$36. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. 515-277-6261

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. June 5 at Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines. Commemorating the 40th anniversary of their self-titled debut album, the band is touring in addition to releasing two companion vinyl box sets featuring their entire studio album collection. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $39.50-$129.50. 515-564-8000

35th Annual Antique Show. June 16-18 throughout the city of Walnut. Stroll along the 17 blocks of dealers outside, through two indoor halls, the Catholic Church yard, and the many shops downtown. Bring a hauling vehicle and plan to stay for the weekend—this event brings more than 300 dealers and approximately 30,000 attendees. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Admission: free. 712-784-3443

Wurst Festival. June 17 in the Amana Colonies. Celebrate one of Germany’s favorite foods. Sample more than 40 different sausages, drink cold beverages, play yard games, and listen to live music. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: free.

Des Moines Arts Festival. June 23-25 at Western Gateway Park, Des Moines. The festival features visual, performing, and interactive arts, along with music and film, from both professional artists and emerging local artists. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission: free. 515-286-4950

Trek Fest XXXIII. June 23-24 in downtown Riverside. Klingons driving tractors? Riverside’s annual tribute to its most famous citizen, the future Capt. James T. Kirk, includes a parade, costume contest, dog show, and bingo. This year’s theme is “30 Years of Next Generation.” 3 p.m.-midnight Friday; 7 a.m.-midnight Saturday. Admission: free. 319-631-9181

The Big Parade and Mardi Gras Festivale 2017. June 29 in downtown Sioux City. Those who didn’t make it to “N’awlins” on the Tuesday before Lent started can experience a similar festival in June with a big parade down Fourth Street. Following the parade will be an authentic Cajun dinner, Zydeco music, fireworks, and a display of handmade Mardi Gras costumes direct from Louisiana. 6-10 p.m. Admission: free, but tickets must be purchased for the food. 712-279-4800


BBQ Cookoff and 93rd Annual Apple Blossom Parade. May 5-7 at Civic Center Park, St. Joseph. Come to St. Joseph’s annual rite of spring. This citywide event includes a grand parade, a contest sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, live music, and other activities. A people’s choice tasting and contest is a highlight of Friday evening. Admission: free, but tickets must be bought for the food. 816-271-4393

Garth Brooks. May 6 at Sprint Center, Kansas City. One of country music’s most beloved stars is coming back to Kansas City. Brooks released his latest single, “Ask Me How I Know,” at the SXSW Festival in Austin, a month after selling his 5 millionth ticket on this tour. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $75 and up. 816-949-7100

Weston Wine Festival. May 13 in downtown Weston. Live music and wine tasting is the focus of this festival, situated in a historic small town. Taste wines from eight different wineries from around the area. Noon-7 p.m. Tickets $25. 816-640-2909

Chainsmokers. May 17 at Sprint Center, Kansas City. Grammy-nominated artist/producer duo Drew Taggart and Alex Pall are most known for their song “#Selfie,” which went viral in 2015. The group has announced that their debut album will launch later this year. 7 p.m. Tickets: $41-$75.50. 816-949-7100

KC Jazz Festival. May 25-28 at 18th and Vine District, Kansas City. This festival, held in Charlie Parker’s birth town, is a multi-day showcase of national and local artists highlighting Kansas City’s role in the development of mid-20th century jazz. Headliners include Brandy, John Scofield, Regina Carter, and the Hot Sardines. Times vary by location. Tickets: $15-$125 for a single-day pass, $150-$350 for a four-day pass. 816-474-8463

Festa Italiana. June 2-4 at Zona Rosa, Kansas City. This annual festival celebrates Italian-American culture through an assortment of Italian food favorites, an Italian car show, food eating contests, vendors, and more. 5-10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Admission: free. 816-587-8180

Future. June 7 at Sprint Center, Kansas City. Future achieved three back-to-back No. 1 albums in 2015. His songs “Low Life” (featuring The Weeknd), and “Where Ya At” (featuring Drake), both went double-platinum. 7 p.m. Tickets: $27.50-$97.50. 816-949-7100

Polish Pottery Festival 2017. June 10 in downtown Weston. Celebrate all things Polish and Eastern European with food, music, dance, pottery, artisans, and cultural booths. The public library will read Polish children’s stories at selected times, and photos can be taken in the Polish Pottery Road Trip car. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: free. 816-640-2909

Fiesta Kansas City. June 16-18 at Crown Center Square, Kansas City. or the 16th year, this Latino-style celebration presented by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City will provide a fun-filled weekend for guests. Festivities will include many vendors, entertainment, food, beverages, and more. 5-11 p.m. Friday; noon-11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission: free. 816-476-6767

Big Slick. June 23 at Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City. Kansas City-raised celebrities Rob Riggle, Eric Stonestreet, Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, and David Koechner will take the field in a charity softball game before the Royals play the Toronto Blue Jays. A fireworks show follows the games. 5 p.m. Tickets: $25-$40. 816-921-8000

This calendar is published as shown in the print edition

We welcome you to submit events to our print calendar. Please email event details and a 300 ppi photograph three months in advance to: editintern@omahamagazine.com

Event times and details may change

Check with venue or event organizer to confirm.

Isiah Gandy

August 12, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

If there was a sport at Boys Town, Isiah Gandy didn’t just play it. He excelled at it.

As a high school freshman, he was instrumental in Boys Town’s push through the state basketball playoffs to win the 2006 championship, the school’s first title in 40 years.

As a senior quarterback, he led the Cowboys football team to the Class C-1 championship (although they lost the final game). 

He also ran cross country and participated in the triple jump and high jump in track and field. But his first—his strongest—sport was always basketball, a game he picked up on the local court near his childhood home of West Palm Beach, Florida.

“My dad played basketball, and we shot baskets in the backyard when I was a kid, so it’s something I’ve always loved,” says Gandy.

After Boys Town, he bounced around college programs. Following one year at Des Moines Area Community College, and two seasons on court with the UNO Mavericks, Gandy transferred to Minot State University in North Dakota for his junior and senior years.

Now, Gandy has the opportunity to play his favorite game in Omaha again—and get paid for it.

This fall, he will take the court with the newly formed Omaha Chargers of the National Basketball League of America. The first-year league starts this September with a short season ending in November.

“I’ve always had a hunger for basketball,” says Gandy, who has been coaching at his high school alma mater for the past two basketball seasons. “I love the work—the grind—involved with playing basketball and playing it well.

Teams on the Chargers’ schedule are located in Sioux City, Kansas City, and Sioux Falls, and home games will be played at Ralston Arena.

As a shooting guard, Gandy joins a squad with deep ties to the local community. Head coach Rodney Buford played basketball at Creighton University before an NBA career. Point guard C.J. Carter graduated from Omaha Benson High School, was an all-star at UNO, and played professional basketball in Macedonia last season. Shooting guard James Parrott hails from Omaha, and several other teammates have links to regional basketball programs.

Gandy initially came to Omaha via Boys Town when he was 15, and he excelled right away on and off the court.

“Boys Town was a great experience for me because I learned a lot of things that I didn’t get to do in a single-parent home in Florida,” says Gandy. “We never sat down to eat as a family at home, but we did at Boys Town, and that meant something to me. Overall, it was a good experience.”

While he’s excited to play before an audience that he considers to be his home crowd, Gandy also hopes to parlay his playing time with the Chargers into a chance at international pro leagues.

“I found out about the league in April when a friend sent me a link, and I was interested right away,” he says. “This is going to be a great opportunity to see the support the community gives to its sports teams on a professional level.”

Visit omahachargers.com for more information. Omaha Magazine