Main Page <<>> Inductees' List Inductee -- 2003

James Kane, Mount Michael
COACH

The 1954 graduate of Wisner High went on to attend UN-L where lettered in baseball for three years and was twice selected All-Big 7 catcher.  After college he spent three seasons in the New York Yankees farm system.  Leaving baseball in 1962, Jim took a job as teacher and coach at Waterloo High School for two years before moving up the road a ways to St. John’s Seminary, which later would be known as Mt. Michael, as its first basketball coach and intramural director. That job evolved into being the “all everything coach” as other sports were added.  His cross country teams were state champions in 1967 and 1968.  Kane-coached football teams had an overall record of 174-93 and two state championships in ’82 and ’90 while qualifying for the playoffs a total of 10 times.  Jim coached his basketball teams to an overall record of 531-254 with 12 trips to the state tournament.  Four of those trips were consecutive, ’82 to ’85, and two were champions, ’83 and ’85.  As a track coach he had many successful seasons taking the Class C state championship in ’73.  Jim was selected as World-Herald Coach of the Year in 1983. He died 2003.

BY STU POSPISIL

WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

Elkhorn Mount Michael's bench hasn't been the same - and never will be the same - without Coach Jim Kane.

Kane, who would have been 66 next week, died Tuesday morning at his Omaha home after being diagnosed in October with cirrhosis of the liver.

When Kane was unable to start the basketball season as coach - it would have been his 39th season at Mount Michael - Assistant Coach Jim Mayberger took over Kane's duties.

The Knights are 8-5 after Monday's night's win in the Centennial Conference tournament. They were to play Tuesday night's quarterfinal at Wahoo Neumann as scheduled.

"One of his final wishes," Mount Michael Principal Tom Ridder said Tuesday, "was to have his funeral in the gym."

Kane's funeral mass will be at 11 a.m. Friday at Mount Michael's Archbishop Bergan gymnasium. Burial will be on the grounds of the school's abbey.

"For us, it's the end of an era at Mount Michael," Ridder said. "He was a legend. A lot of alumni, when they think of Mount Michael they think first of Coach Kane. For 30 years he was the only coach they had for football, basketball and track."

Born in West Point, Neb., Jim Kane was the youngest of a family of five and its only son. The Kanes moved to Wisner, Neb., where he graduated from high school in 1954.

He was an All-Big Seven catcher in 1957 and 1958 at Nebraska and played three years in the New York Yankees farm system. After a stint in the U.S. Army, he returned to Nebraska to teach and coach at Waterloo.

He never had been to St. John's Seminary, on the Elkhorn River bluffs northwest of Elkhorn, before hired in 1964 as its first basketball coach.

Kane's teams were state champions in basketball in 1983 and 1985, in football in 1982 and 1990, in cross country in 1967 and 1968 and in track in 1973. He was The World-Herald's High School Coach of the Year for 1983.

He had career records of 547-263 in basketball and 177-97 in football.

Kane - whose nickname was "Killer Kane" - was known for well-disciplined teams. His 1-3-1 zone defense for basketball had other schools borrowing its concepts.

"He was a throwback," former Hastings College Coach Mike Trader said.

Steve Vertin, a coach in St. Joseph, Mo., who was one of Kane's proteges, said he could never run out of stories about the coach. One year at the Class B state basketball tournament, Vertin recalled, Aurora beat Mount Michael on a last-second shot from 25 feet. According to Vertin, Kane walked in the Knights' locker room at Pershing Auditorium and said, "Men, great effort. Track starts on Monday." And Kane walked out.

"I've told that story a lot," Vertin said. "That's how Coach handled things. 'Track starts Monday. Don't look over the shoulder.' The seniors, especially, said 'That's right.' The sophomores wondered, 'Does he ever give you a break.' "

Ridder said Mount Michael's students were told Tuesday morning of Kane's death and a short prayer service was conducted. A team meeting followed. The school will have staff members available for student crisis counseling.

Kane's survivors include Loramae Vermehren, his companion for about 35 years, and four sisters. A rosary will be said at 7 p.m. Thursday at Reichmuth Funeral Home, 21901 West Maple Road in Elkhorn.