Westside Names 2019 Athletics Hall of Fame Inductees
April 22, 2019
Congratulations to the Westside alumni who will be inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame for 2019. Each will be honored at a special ceremony on May 3, 2019.
Michael Cooper – 1993
- Michael Cooper was a stand-out athlete for Westside High School. He competed in football, basketball and track, and added soccer to his resume his senior year. Michael was a two- year letter winner in basketball and track, and excelled on the football field, lettering for three years and playing on three state qualifying teams. His junior and senior years, Michael led the Warriors to the semi-finals of the state tournament. His statewide football honors included All-Metro and All-State as a running back (1992), All-Metro, All-State Linebacker and Captain of the Shrine Bowl (1993). Michael was named the Top Male Athlete of the Year by B’nai B’rith his senior year. He accepted a scholarship to Iowa State University and finished as the 4th leading tackler in school history with 372 tackles and 149 assists. Today, Michael lives in St. Louis with his wife Sunny and their 3 children, Avery, Michael and Marlee. He is the General Manager of The Cheesecake Factory in Chesterfield, Missouri and has coached middle school football the past five years.
Abby Johnson – 2001
- Abby Johnson is considered the best softball player in Westside history, while also participating in track and basketball. She was a four time letter winner (1997 – 2000), Gatorade Player of the Year (2000), Metro Conference player of the Year (2000) and First Team All-State (1999 & 2000). Abby led her team to two State Runner-Up finishes in 1999 and 2000, and holds school records in triples, assists and pitching. In her four-year career, she posted 457 strike-outs and only gave up 54 earned runs in 300 innings pitched; in 2000 alone, Abby had an ERA of 0.54 and 234 strikeouts with 26 wins. Abby was named to the 25 Year Anniversary Team by the Omaha World Herald, considered one of the best 25 softball players in state history. Abby continued her career Creighton University, were she was a four year letter winner and First Team All-Missouri Valley Conference for three years and the MVC player of the year (2005). She continued to play professionally for one year, then coached at Creighton from 2006 to 2014, earning three NCAA tournament berths. Today, Abby is Legal & Operations Manager for Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska. She is the daughter of Deb Davis and Father Bob Johnson, sister to Alex and Adam Johnson and daughter to stepfathers, Tracy Haynes and Rob Davis.
Laurel Karnes Murphy – 2002
- Laurel Karnes-Murphy was an outstanding tennis and soccer player at Westside High School. In just her freshman year, she was a Metro and State Champion in Number 1 doubles. When the NSAA moved tennis to spring, Laurel chose to focus on soccer, her first love. Over the next three years, Laurel was one of the best soccer players Nebraska, named to Class A All State (2000 – 2002), All-State (2001 – 2002), All-State Team Captain (2002), and a member of three state runner-up teams (2000-2002). Laurel was also named to the 25 year All-Nebraska team by the Omaha World Herald. Laurel also excelled in the classroom, in addition to being an exceptional athlete. After high school, she was accepted to Yale University where she started every game in her career and finished third all-time in points and fourth in goals. In her senior season (2005), Laurel’s goal with one second left in the game lifted the Bulldogs past Top 10 Duke in the second round of NCAA College Cup. Today, Laurel lives in Boston with her husband Nathan (a former Yale Hockey player) and two children, daughter Kemp (2) and son Mikey (9 months). She is a Technology Strategist at Liberty Mutual Insurance.
Magnolia Howell – 2002
- Magnolia Howell is one of the best female track athletes to attend Westside High School. When her family moved from Mexico to Omaha, Magnolia began running track in 4th grade at St.Margaret Mary. By the time Magnolia enrolled at Westside, she was a stand-out sprinter for the Warriors. Magnolia was the gold medalist in the 100 and 200 meter sprints (2001), and then won the all-class gold medal in the 100 with a time of 12.13 (2002) and again in the 200 with a time of 25.14 (2002). She did not lose a single race her senior year, and credits her success to her father and family, her high school coaches, her training with the Cornhusker Flyers, and her personal discipline to train twice a day with her biggest coaching influence, Harley Cooper. Magnolia earned a full-ride scholarship to California State University Long Beach where she continued her career in Track and Field and majored in Print Journalism. She spent one year in London working at a film company acquiring an international business certificate. After graduation, Magnolia became a Professional Track and Field athlete for Trinidad and Tobago. While training under renowned Nike coach Bobby Kersee (coach to Flo Jo & Jackie Joyner Kersee), she received gold and bronze medals at the Central American Games in Costa Rica, qualified and ran at two of the IAAF World Relays held in the Bahamas, and made it to the finals of the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Trials. Throughout her athletic career, Magnolia has continued working as a fine artist in Los Angeles and a freelance writer, with articles featured in Sublime Magazine, NOVICA National Geographic and The Oxford Poetry Society Magazine. Magnolia is currently training for her final Olympic bid, hoping to compete in Tokyo at the 2020 Games.
Contributor: Rick Berkshire – 1972
- Rick Berkshire has been a valued member of the Westside Boys Basketball community over the last 40 years, serving as a volunteer or an assistant coach for much of that time. He started the Westside Alumni Basketball Tournament in 1992, and event that is more popular than ever today. Rick himself was an outstanding athlete for Westside High School, lettering in basketball in 1971 & 1972, and coached by the late Tom Hall in the Metro All-Star Game in 1972. Rick was also an excellent track athlete, winning the Metro Conference title and District title in the 120 High Hurdles (1972), a school record, then finishing fourth at the state meet. After high school, Rick enrolled at Hastings College where he lettered in basketball and track. Today, he is an attorney in Omaha and has 4 children, all Westside High School graduates. Andrew graduated in 2004, Julie in 2006, Tim in 2010 and Matt, who currently holds the Westside High School record in the 100M dash, in 2012.
1999 Baseball Team
- The 1999 Westside Baseball team was Coach Bob Greco’s first high school Spring State Championship Team. The team compiled a 23-5 record and capitalized on the first year of the double elimination state tournament format. The Warriors avenged an earlier loss in the tournament, defeating Papillion-LaVista twice to win the state title. The team was led by pitchers Tom Oldham, Chris Smart and Adrian Rider, who took advantage of an extra day of rest thanks to rain. Adrian kept the Warriors’ season alive by pitching a complete game shutout 5-0 in the first championship game, and as he would tell you, Tom would not have been the winning pitcher in the state final if he didn’t win the first game. The Warriors won the second championship game 6-1 behind the arm of All-State player Tom Oldham, who ended his season a perfect 7-0. Bats were also crucial to victory, as the 1999 team had a batting average of .331. Coach Greco also remembers this season for how his players responded in the midst of tragedy, recalling the incredible support shown by his athletes and their families after the tragic loss of Greco’s father in a car accident a week after the state championship game.