SEWARD – Four individuals and one team officially joined the Concordia University Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday, Oct. 7 as part of an induction ceremony held on campus in conjunction with homecoming weekend. The following individuals have been selected to join elite company.
John Puelz – Class of 1992
One of the most prolific scorers in the history of the men’s basketball program, John Puelz piled up 1,955 career points, ranking third in school history. The four-year starter and Lincoln, Neb., native averaged 15.2 points per game over 129 career games while earning numerous accolades as a senior, including NAIA honorable mention All-America, first team All-District 11, first team All-Nebraska Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and second team All-Nebraska honors (as chosen by the Lincoln Journal Star). In total, Puelz was named all-conference three times, all-district three times, a NAIA Scholar-Athlete twice and an all-district all-star game selection in 1990. In addition to ranking third on the program’s all-time scoring list, he also ranks 13th in assists (201) and 15th in rebounds (474).
During his career, Concordia men’s basketball took off. The 1990-91 Bulldogs went 23-11, won the NAIA District 11 title and earned a berth in the NAIA national tournament for the first time in program history. The following season, Puelz’s senior year, Concordia repeated as district champs, won the NIAC title and advanced all the way to the semifinals of the national tournament while going 26-10 overall. The 1991-92 team received induction into the Concordia Athletic Hall of Fame and was billed by the Journal Star as one of the state college “teams of the century.” Puelz was coached by both Tom Baack and Grant Schmidt. Puelz played with six teammates that also surpassed 1,000 career points.
Also an alum of Lincoln Southeast High School, Puelz first attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln before transferring to Concordia. A member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lincoln, John married Angela Lee Schoof. John and Angela have five children: Paxton, Josie, Joshua, Jonny and Jesse. John has been employed at Lindner Painting, Inc., since 1994.
Phil Seevers – Class of 1990
In the discussion for top quarterback in program history, Phil Seevers starred in both baseball and football during his career as a student-athlete at Concordia. Originally from Blair, Neb., Seevers led NAIA District 11 in passing in 1988 while amassing 1,938 yards passing and 2,443 total yards. That same season he completed 141 of 290 pass attempts, fired 16 touchdown passes and was named the captain of the All-Nebraska Football Team, as selected by the Omaha World-Herald. The 1989 Concordia Senior Male Athlete of the Year threw for 302 yards and five touchdowns and also ran for 138 yards in a 1988 shootout with Doane. Over his final three football seasons, Seevers compiled passing totals of 3,109 yards and 25 touchdowns and rushing numbers of 1,365 yards and 25 touchdowns. On the baseball diamond, Seevers played both catcher and outfielder and earned NAIA All-District 11 honors twice and All-Nebraska Intercollegiate Athletic Conference accolades three times. Seevers batted .370 as a junior and .359 as a senior.
Coached by Larry Oetting in football, Seevers led the 1987 Bulldogs to a 6-4 record. He also was a member of the last Concordia baseball team to win a conference championship. Under the direction of head coach Ruben Stohs, the 1986 baseball team went 8-4 in league play in winning the Nebraska Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title. Then a freshman, Seevers batted .370 and drove in 23 runs. Seevers also played for head baseball coach Tim Warneke in 1988.
Seevers graduated from Concordia with his bachelors of science in secondary education (emphasis in business and physical education). He also earned a master’s in secondary administration from Concordia. Phil married Danyel. They have three children: Karlee, 17, Abbey, 15, and Ryan, 12. Phil has spent his professional career at both Fairbury Public Schools and York Public Schools as a teacher and coach. He is now the operations manager at Kroy Industries in York, Neb. Phil is a member of the Nebraska Coaches Association, the president of York Fusion Softball and the vice president of York Knights Baseball. He attends First Lutheran Church in York.
Sean Stewart – Class of 2003
Known as a hard-hitting safety, Sean Stewart garnered NAIA All-America accolades three times (second team once, honorable mention twice) as one of the top defensive backs in Concordia football history. During his impressive career, Stewart piled up 290 tackles (11 for loss) and a school career record 20 interceptions. His nine interceptions his senior year are tied for a single-season program standard. Originally from Beaumont, Texas, Stewart was named to the first team of the Great Plains Athletic Conference three times and selected as defensive captain of the 2002 Omaha World-Herald All-Nebraska Football Team during his career as a four-year starter. He was also a member of Concordia’s track and field teams.
Stewart’s play on the defensive side of the ball helped the Bulldogs develop into a conference champion. He shined for the 2001 squad that broke a school record for wins in a season while going 10-2 overall, sharing the GPAC title and advancing to the quarterfinals of the NAIA playoffs. The 2001 team defeated St. Ambrose University (Iowa), 31-26, in the opening round of the playoffs in a game staged at Bulldog Stadium. Stewart played all four years for head coach Courtney Meyer.
Stewart graduated from Concordia with a bachelor of science degree in business administration. He continued his education at the University of Houston and then the U.S. Naval War College and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, where he attended officer candidate school. Sean married Nia Scott Stewart. They have two children: Sean II and Ivy. Stewart spent nearly eight years working for the Galveston police department. Since 2012 he has served the United States Coast Guard. He is a member of the National Naval Officer’s Association (NNOA) and the National Society of Leadership and Success. He is active in the Partnership in Education program and as a Texas Special Weapons and Tactics operator. He is a member of Point Harbor Community Church.
When asked about his special memories of Concordia, Stewart wrote, “We grew together as young men to form a cohesive unit under the guidance and leadership of Coach Meyer, Coach (Tim) Preuss and Coach Mac (Bill McAllister).”
Whitney (Stichka) Daberkow – Class of 2009
A hero of the 2009 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championships, Whitney (Stichka) Daberkow’s name is littered across the Concordia women’s basketball program’s all-time career lists. Three-straight seasons Daberkow collected NAIA All-America recognition, going from honorable mention in 2007 to second team in 2008 to first team in 2009. She was both a three-time first team all-GPAC honoree and a three-time NAIA All-Nebraska selection by theOmaha World-Herald. The 2008-09 Concordia Female Senior Athlete of the Year amassed 1,765 career points, placing her fourth in school history. She also currently ranks 12th all-time in assists (323) and 19th in steals (175). Her 35 points scored on Feb. 17, 2007, rank as the third highest-single game total in school history. She was chosen to the 2009 national tournament all-tournament team. In addition, Daberkow raked in MVP honors at the Concordia Invitational Tournament three times (2006, 2008, 2009).
Daberkow led the Bulldogs to national tournament appearances in both 2008 and 2009. Over those two seasons, Concordia went a combined 52-16. Her buzzer beater in the second round of the 2009 national tournament advanced Concordia into the quarterfinals. Daberkow was a member of the 2006-07 and 2007-08 teams that both led all NAIA women’s basketball programs in team GPA. She was coached by both Todd Voss and Drew Olson.
Daberkow graduated from Concordia with degrees in communications and psychology. The Deshler High School alum married Dayton Daberkow. They have three children: Elliot, Ruby and Thatcher. Whitney previously worked for Bethany House Publishers/Baker Publishing Group. She currently runs Whitney Daberkow Photography. In addition, she serves as a volunteer photographer and as a nursery staff member. She attends Trinity City Church in St. Paul, Minn.
Whitney’s special memories of Concordia include the 2009 CIT hosted in Seward, Wednesday night Praise, national tournaments and spring weekend. Wrote Whitney, “The Christian environment helped shape my faith greatly. I met my best friends at Concordia, and the coaches constantly encouraged me in athletics and in my studies.”
1994-95 Men’s Basketball
Guided by head coach Grant Schmidt, the 1994-95 men’s basketball team set a then school record for wins in a season by going 30-4 overall. Its win percentage of .882 remains a program record. Along the way, Concordia won Nebraska-Iowa Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles. The team’s 11-1 conference mark broke a program record for highest winning percentage in league play. In battles with fellow conference power Hastings, the Bulldogs came out on top all three times, including a 76-71 victory in the conference tournament championship game. Concordia advanced to the quarterfinals of the national tournament with wins over Loyola (La.), 90-69, and over St. Ambrose (Iowa), 100-84. The Bulldogs entered the national tournament ranked No. 2 in NAIA Division II men’s basketball.
Four players on the 1994-95 squad averaged more than 10 points per game: Ryan Kness (19.7), Darin Engelbart (15.0), Bret Walter (13.8) and Scott Ernstmeyer (12.6). Ernstmeyer blocked a then school record 122 shots for a team that allowed only 69.3 points per game. Engelbart (8.4 assists per game) garnered NIAC Player of the Year and second team All-America honors and was tabbed the honorary captain of the Omaha World-Herald All-Nebraska team. Engelbart and Kness (8.0 rebounds per game) were both chosen to the All-NIAC first team while Ernstmeyer and Walter received honorable mention all-conference recognition. Schmidt, the 1994-95 NIAC Coach of the Year, was assisted by Micah Parker and Devin Smith and student assistants Ryan Elrod and Jason Glines. Tom Ebel served as athletic trainer and Stan Schluter filled the role of equipment manager.
Over 23 years as head coach, Schmidt went 445-276. He is the winningest coach in the history of Concordia basketball, men or women.