One of Nebraska’s all-time winningest boys basketball coaches returns to try to add to his already impressive win total this winter after sitting out a season.
Dave Oman will be back on the bench for a 51st season, this time at Shelton.
The three-time state champion coach sat out the 2019-20 season after his contract expired at Centura. He was still interested in coaching but couldn’t find any openings in the Grand Island area, which was a requirement for him since his wife Maureen is a principal at Lincoln Elementary School.
Oman was hoping for the right opportunity to resume his storied coaching career, and that opportunity came up with the Bulldogs.
It all started with a conversation with Grand Island Central Catholic boys coach Tino Martinez and official Craig Rupp.
“I was down at Tino’s talking, and he and Craig told me there was an opening at Shelton,” Oman said. “I wasn’t ready to quit after Centura. I sat out last year, but I still enjoy coaching and want to be a head coach.
“I also think that as you get older, it’s important that you keep doing something.”
And that something for Oman has been coaching basketball. His career has included stops at Table Rock, Wilber-Clatonia, Norfolk, Grand Island Senior High, Doniphan-Trumbull and Centura.
He led teams to Class A state titles at Norfolk (1987) and twice with the Islanders (1999 and 2002).
Oman’s 583 career wins sits eighth on the state’s all-time list. He is 17 wins away from becoming the seventh coach in state history with 600 victories.
“It would be nice to reach 600, but that wasn’t why I’m doing this,” Oman said. “This is something I still really enjoy doing.”
Oman sees a lot of positives at Shelton that makes it a good fit for him.
“They have a new superintendent, a new principal and a new (activities director),” he said. “They have great facilities and good kids. It’s only a 25-30 minute drive. I think we have a chance to be halfway decent.”
Shelton went 16-7 last season but did lose eight seniors off of that team.
Oman, meanwhile, was watching basketball from a much different view that he was used to from the previous half century.
“It was weird,” he said. “But I did watch a lot of games.”
Due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, Oman’s 51st season will be different than any of the previous years.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to keep playing,” he said. “You never know what it will be like in October when the season is around the corner. A big hurdle is keeping kids safe.”
With Directed Health Measures limiting basketball workouts until July 1, Oman has been attending weight training sessions at Shelton. Once workouts are allowed, he wants his team to take part in a camp at Creighton and begin to make progress towards improving.
“You have to work on your skills,” Oman said. “Skills are really important in basketball. If you aren’t skilled, you won’t be a good basketball team.”
It could be a much busier basketball winter for the Oman family. Dave’s son Ben intends to try out at Hastings College after sitting out his freshman season in college after graduating from Centura and having played for his father.
“We were at the Millard North-(Lincoln) North Star game last season, and it was packed,” Oman said. “Ben leaned over and said he wanted to try to play again, and that made me happy.
“Now that he’ll finally get some good coaching, maybe he’ll have a chance to be decent.”