Greenwave HOF to induct 30 on Saturday
Ernie McKenzie remembers ditching study hall to go duck hunting, and the consequences that soon followed.
“It did teach me that there were consequences for not doing things right no matter who you thought you were,” McKenzie recalled.
McKenzie learned from that lesson and became an All-American linebacker during his final season with the Greenwave and took third in his only season wrestling for Earl Wilkens in 1971. McKenzie lettered three times in baseball, helping Fallon win the state title in his last season while also being named an all-state catcher.
McKenzie, along with 29 other individuals and teams, will be honored this weekend as the Greenwave Hall of Fame inducts its second class. The community will get to see many of the inductees prior to Friday night’s football game against North Valleys before Saturday night’s ceremony and dinner. Tickets are no longer available.
“I miss running out on Bradley Field to play football for the honor of the community on a cold fall evening, with the band playing ‘Da-da-dat-ta-dah-dah,’” McKenzie said. “It was exciting knowing people were paying attention. You wanted to do well and win for your parents, your school and the community. And you didn’t want to embarrass your girlfriend.”
McKenzie continued his career in college by wrestling on a scholarship at the University of Nevada during his sophomore year. The wrestling program, though, was suspended when Title IX was introduced but McKenzie still competed in the intramural program. McKenzie, who retired from teaching and school administration after 32 years, coached at Fallon for one year before assisting with Carson City’s middle school and high school sports programs.
McKenzie said coach Tony Klenakis Sr. was his biggest mentor during his Greenwave career. Klenakis is this year’s keynote speaker.
“He had confidence in me to play football as hard as I could and he gave me my first leadership role as football captain,” McKenzie said. “He trusted me on and off the field and gave me advice on my future. He was loyal to me and correspondingly, I was loyal to him. He taught me that my word and handshake were irrevocable bonds and permanent commitments. My word is still my bond.”
The range of inductees is vast.
Three girls basketball teams from the 1920s will be inducted, along with the 1957 and 1971 boys state championship basketball teams, and one of the most dominating volleyball teams in the Silver State’s history.
Samantha (Scheible) Van Ginneken, who played on both the 1999 and 2000 state championship volleyball teams, ranks the volleyball run as one of the biggest achievements, especially learning under coach Caryn Marshall.
“I’ve never been pushed harder by a coach to succeed then Caryn Marshall,” Van Ginneken said. “I’ve also never been as physically fit as when I trained under her watch. It’s no wonder we won the 1999 and 2000 state championships. My teammates were great mentors. I truly believe I was surrounded by some of the most athletic and competitive individuals in Greenwave history. Trying to be amongst the best was quite motivating.”
Teammate Amanda Camacho felt the same and said the community support was overwhelming.
“Not only did we have family, friends, classmates and teachers cheering us on in the stands throughout the season, we had the whole Fallon community behind us,” said Camacho, who also starred on the basketball and softball teams. “We got a police escort out of town and upon our return from our state victory, which made an already unforgettable experience that much more special. Equally as memorable was us belting out Queen’s ‘We Are the Champions’ on repeat during that bus ride home.”
In addition to the teams, including the 2000 volleyball club being inducted, several individuals stood out as athletes, coaches and contributors.
Dell Steve, a 1950 Fallon grad who competed in baseball, basketball, football and boxing, recalled several moments that have made lasting impressions to this day. He scored 32 points against Boulder City in the state basketball tournament and became an all-state player and also pitched three no-hitters in one season under Hall of Fame coach Wes Goodner.
“In boxing, I beat Joe Bliss, who went on to college and won the national college boxing championship, which was the first for Nevada,” the 86-year-old inductee said. “In an interview, Joe Bliss stated that I was his toughest opponent.”
Carey (Behimer) Gantt was one of the school’s best to don the green and white during the basketball season. She was the first girls basketball player from CCHS to receive a full-ride scholarship for her sport. The 1989 grad broke the school’s record for scoring as she tallied 1,385 points in her four-year career. Gantt played volleyball in the fall and was electric on the softball diamond in the spring.
“Every single coach and assistant coach had an important role in mentoring me,” Gantt said. “Every one of them pushed me, encouraged me, taught me, corrected me and supported me. I can’t thank them enough. I can’t possibly pick just one of them. All of them have a special place in my heart as well as in my development as a player and person.”