Future GEHS Boys Basketball Coach Keys on Relationships

Anthony Wants to Build Program From the Ground


Abby Turpen

Derek Dearking (23), Kellen Burns (23), Isaiah Currie (23), Kade Cook (24), Jeff Rozelle (23), Landon Pokorski (24) and Alex Wilcoxson (24)

For the past few years, Gretna has found success in basketball while playing in Class A. They have come mere inches from glory under Coach Brad Feeken and built players who can go to the next level. With the Gretna East High School opening this fall, questions arose regarding who would take the helm of a new team. The school will only be inheriting current freshmen and sophomores, so developing these players would be key in helping them find success. Looking inside their current staff and building, the district has hired current assistant Mr. Cooper Anthony to be the first boy’s basketball coach at GEHS.
Coach Anthony grew up down in south Nebraska in the town of Crete. He graduated from Crete High School, then attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) as a student manager. He was under former Husker head coach Tim Miles and gained a large amount of valuable experience from this. Following UNL, he transferred to Nebraska Wesleyan University to play basketball. He became a student teacher at Lincoln Northeast where he started his coaching career. Opportunities called and he wound up at Grand Island Senior High School to coach the lower level teams in the mornings along with assistant coaching for the varsity team. Finally, he came to Gretna to be a varsity assistant and also was a coach for the seventh grade boys at Aspen Creek Middle School. Under coaches Feeken and Bill Heard, he learned the ways of the game and credits them for it.
“Feeken and Heard, I kid you not, are two of the best coaches in the state,” Coach Anthony said. “They are 1A and 1B. They know everything about the game, and they get kids to play so well for them. It’s an artform for what they do.”
This past year at Gretna, Coach Anthony has been a Special Education instructor, teaching courses in the English and math departments. Outside of coaching and teaching, Coach Anthony is a basketball junky. He watches, studies and plays the game, learning about everything it entails. He is also a diehard Nebraska Cornhusker fan and can be found in Lincoln on Saturdays during the fall. With his experience playing the game, he knows the ins and outs along with how to bring out the best in his players.
“If you can build a relationship with a player early on, it’s a lot easier to coach them that way,” Coach Anthony said. “I know from my experiences, the coaches I liked the most typically were the ones that were the hardest on me and were able to get the most out of me, so I think it’s really building relationships with kids early and identifying weaknesses and areas that they can improve.”
Starting a new program comes with its fair share of challenges along the way. Gretna East will receive only freshmen and sophomores, with none of them having played a game on varsity. Some of Coach Anthony’s current partners will be there to assist him, including Coach Max Sealer, who has been an assistant in Gretna the past four years. He is also taking Coach Tyler Spitzer, who has been the head coach at Arlington, and Coach Tanner Whitfield, who just finished student teaching at Wahoo. With this help, he looks forward to taking on this opportunity and what it means to compete in the Gretna community.
“Gretna is a community that really rallies behind its athletic programs,” Coach Anthony said. “So the fact that myself with my assistant coaches and this group of guys get to be team one is pretty cool. It’s something that we don’t take lightly. We feel like it’s a huge responsibility, and so doing every little thing the right way is really important to us.”