LINCOLN–(KFOR/News Release Jan. 22)–Two new head coaches will take over a couple of varsity level athletic programs at two LPS high schools.
In a release sent to KFOR Sports on Monday, Lincoln Northeast has hired Marisa Garver to be the Rockets’ head softball coach for next school year, while Jeremy Jank has been hired to be Lincoln North Star’s new head girls tennis coach this spring.
“I am very ecstatic to come back and coach at Lincoln Northeast after playing for the Rockets 12 years ago,” Garver said. “I still have family who live in northeast Lincoln, so getting to be closer to them is very special.”
Lincoln Northeast athletic director Matt Uher said he was looking forward to having Garver in the school’s coaching lineup.
“Marisa is a Rocket alum and truly understands what it means when people state, ‘Once a Rocket, Always a Rocket!’” Uher said. “She coached at LNE as an assistant a few years ago and ventured out to gain valuable head coaching experience. She has seen tremendous growth in her coaching skills and abilities the past two years at Fairbury.
“Marisa values tradition, hard work and academic excellence. She is committed to developing a softball program that is not only competitive but also looks to reach the postseason as she builds excellence here at Lincoln Northeast.”
Garver was a four-year varsity letterwinner for the Rockets and was a member of district runner-up teams in both 2008 and 2011. She was a Class A All-State honorable mention selection as a senior.
Garver filled spots as a pitcher, outfielder, first baseman and third baseman during her Northeast career. She felt that versatility has helped her relate to many players in her coaching role.
“It helped me understand the little nuances of each position,” Garver said. “I can show the student athletes I coach what specific skills and techniques look like for their position, as well as what tweaks to feel in their mechanics if a change needs to be made to make them more successful.”
Garver was an Academic All-State and National Honor Society student in high school. She graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 2016 with a degree in elementary education. She will teach elementary classes for LPS at a school location to be determined later this spring.
Garver played softball at NWU from 2013-16 and ended her career with multiple achievements. She is currently in the program’s top ten for season appearances (tied second, 30, 2016), career appearances (third, 82, 2013-16), season innings pitched (sixth, 140, 2016), career innings pitched (fourth, 379, 2013-16), career complete games (ninth, 33, 2013-16), season victories (tied seventh, 14, 2016), career victories (fifth, 30, 2013-16), career earned run average (tied fifth, 2.97, 2013-16), season shutouts (tied seventh, three, 2016) and career shutouts (tied seventh, four, 2013-16).
Garver was named to the All-Great Plains Athletic Conference second team in both 2015 and 2016. She was named NCAA Division III All-Independent Pitcher of the Year in both 2015 and 2016 and was a Pflieger-Olson Scholar Athlete in 2016. She went 14-8 with a 2.20 ERA and had a .959 fielding percentage with 46 defensive assists in 2016.
Garver spent time as an assistant softball coach at NWU after her graduation, and she coached Lincoln Northeast’s junior varsity softball program in both 2017 and 2018. She was a volunteer assistant for Lincoln North Star in 2019 before stepping into Norris High School’s dugout. She worked with the pitching staff as an assistant coach and helped the Titans reach two state tournaments. Norris placed third in Class B in 2020 and played in two state games in 2021.
Garver spent the past two seasons as head softball coach at Fairbury. She helped the Jeffs secure a district runner-up award in 2023. She teaches fourth grade at Jefferson Intermediate School in Fairbury and is an assistant girls basketball coach.
Lincoln Northeast finished 6-21 during the 2023 softball season. The team graduated four seniors. Eleven varsity players in grades 9-11 will return for the Rockets.
Garver said several of her top goals include building competitive junior varsity and reserve teams, being in the top three places record-wise against city and conference opponents each season and playing in district championship games on a consistent basis.
Garver has also set a goal of helping the Rockets qualify for the state tournament. Lincoln Northeast has reached the state tournament twice in program history. The team competed at state in the 2004 and 2005 seasons.
Uher felt that type of forward-thinking optimism would help Garver enjoy a successful homecoming in Northeast’s dugout.
“We are excited to welcome Marisa back to the LNE family, and our school and community look forward to softball having success because of her leadership and dedication to the sport,” Uher said.
Jank plans to help North Star’s girls tennis team immediately.
North Star Athletic Director Nathan Renter announced the school has hired Jank as head coach. Jank led the junior varsity girls tennis team last season and has taught hundreds of students in North Star math classes. He said he was excited to take the reins of the varsity program.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve in a new role with scholar athletes that mean a ton to me and coaches that I enjoy being around – all at a place that I’m thankful to be a part of!” Jank said.
Jank will lead a three-person coaching staff. Lincoln Chamberlin, who is also head varsity boys tennis coach, will oversee the junior varsity girls team. Koby Bales will guide the reserve girls team.
Jank grew up in Hastings and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and computer science in May 2012. He received a master’s degree with an emphasis in mathematics teaching from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in August 2013.
Jank has been a math teacher at North Star since 2013. He teaches algebra, statistics and pre-calculus courses at the high school. He also serves as an official bookkeeper at girls and boys basketball games.
Jank will be familiar with many players on the 2024 tennis squad. He has been on North Star’s coaching staff since 2019 and has worked with multiple state qualifiers.
Jank began his North Star coaching career as leader of the girls reserve team. He became junior varsity girls coach the following year and remained in that role from 2021-23. He added responsibilities as coach of the junior varsity boys tennis program in 2023.
Jank said he wants North Star students to set lofty goals both in the classroom and on the tennis court.
“Just like what was modeled for me by prior teachers and coaches in my life, we want to push to be the very best we can be in all aspects of life, including some tennis,” Jank said.
Jank will use his personal tennis experience to guide the Navigators. He and Hastings High School teammate Yannic Thiel won the Class B #1 doubles state championship in 2006. Jank helped Hastings claim the Class B state team title the same year.
Jank played tennis at Concordia University in Seward, Neb., for four years and was team captain as a senior. He earned Great Plains Athletic Conference honorable mention accolades at #1 doubles in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and at #1 singles and #2 doubles in 2012. He was on the All-GPAC Team for #1 singles in 2010 and #2 singles in 2011.
Jank will work with a veteran roster this spring. North Star finished 11th in Class A standings at last year’s state tournament with 16 points. Seniors Jeana Phan and Ava Simpson, juniors Abigail Lottman, Brynn Person and Piper Ruhl and sophomore Elena Simpson will all return to the court.
Phan (#1 singles), Lottman (#2 singles), Ava Simpson and Elena Simpson (#1 doubles) and Person and Ruhl (#2 doubles) all qualified for state in 2023. Person and Ruhl earned a fourth-place medal for their state doubles performance.