LINCOLN–(News Release Jan. 16)–Lincoln East leaders feel they have hit a hole-in-one by hiring two veteran coaches to guide the girls golf program.
Stephanie Kolbas and Bill Spangler will oversee the Spartans on the links next fall as co-head coaches. They will provide East athletes with decades of golfing knowledge during the 2024 season.
East Athletics/Activities Director Zach Limbach said he was ecstatic to have Kolbas and Spangler join the Spartans family. Kolbas coached Lincoln Pius X golfers from 1996-2023 and Spangler led the University of Nebraska-Lincoln men’s golf program from 2001-18.
“Steph and Bill have a wealth of coaching experience and a complete understanding of the value of educational-based athletics that East High strives to promote,” Limbach said. “They both have the skills needed to enhance the ongoing development and overall improvement of our traditionally strong program.”
Kolbas and Spangler will replace Leigh Uhing and Brian Bullington as co-head coaches. Uhing and Bullington led the Spartans to the 2023 Class A state title. It was the first state girls golf championship in school history.
Limbach said Kolbas and Spangler both have the credentials to help East remain near the top of the Class A scoreboard in future seasons.
“I’m confident we have assembled two of the very best golf coaches in the state,” Limbach said.
Kolbas played golf at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 1991-94 and finished fifth in the 1991 Big Eight Conference Tournament. She helped Nebraska qualify for the NCAA West Regional for the first time in school history in 1994.
Kolbas captured multiple academic honors at UNL and was a Scholastic-All American from 1992-94. She qualified for the United States Golf Association Women’s Mid-Amateur Tournament in 1998, and she took home the Nebraska State Match Play Championships title the same year. She played in the U.S. Women’s Open in 1999 and finished first in the Nebraska Women’s Amateur Stroke Play Championships in both 2005 and 2007.
Kolbas taught both French and Spanish classes at Lincoln Pius X from 1996-2000. She was head coach of the Lincoln Pius X boys golf team for a majority of the seasons from 1996-2022, and she led the school’s girls golf program from 1999-2023.
Kolbas guided the Thunderbolts to three straight Class A girls golf team championships from 2001-03. Lincoln Pius X finished second in the state team race in 2004, 2012 and 2020, and the school claimed 11 district tournament championships from 2000-2020. Maggie Gabelman (1999), Leigh Sutton (2002) and Nicole Kolbas (2020-22) won Class A state individual titles under Kolbas’ guidance.
Kolbas also coached the Lincoln Pius X boys for many successful seasons. The team finished second in the Class A State Tournament in 2007, 2013 and 2021. Jeremy Gerch (1998) and Jason Kolbas (2018) earned second place at state for the Thunderbolts. The 2021 team set a school-record score of 280 in the district tournament.
Kolbas was inducted into the Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame in 2021. She has been the local tour director of U.S. Kids Golf since 2017 and has led multiple Nebraska Coaches Association (NCA) clinics. She won the NCA Coach of the Year Award in 2002, received the KFOR/Ralph Beechner Coach of the Year Award in 2007-08 and received the Top 50 U.S. Kids Golf Coach Award in 2023.
Spangler lettered for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln men’s golf program in both 1984 and 1985. He won the Nebraska Match Play Championships title in 1987 and twice earned the tournament’s runner-up trophy.
Spangler made the 36-hole cut of the Nebraska Amateur Championships 17 times and finished second in the tournament four times. He was also a two-time recipient of the Nebraska Amateur Player of the Year honor.
Spangler earned a degree in business administration in 1986 and became assistant coach of the UNL women’s golf program in 1995. He helped with coaching, recruiting and fundraising duties for the team until May 2001.
Spangler became head coach of the UNL men’s golf program in June 2001. He led the Huskers until June 2018. Nebraska qualified for the regional tournament in both 2006 and 2007.
Lincoln East athletes carded a team score of 631 to defeat Lincoln Southwest by 14 strokes in the 2023 state tournament. The Spartans shot a 309 in round one and followed that up with a 322 to claim the championship.
Elly Honnens, Juliet Schoemaker and Hailey Bayne were seniors on the 2023 squad. Honnens (155) finished fourth at state, Bayne (166) was 15th and Schoemaker (168) tied for 18th place. Juniors Isabella Elgert (149, second place) and Addison Shirk (165, tied 12th) will both lead the Spartans next season.