Foundation banquet November 21st to honor four who've made a difference

Foundation banquet November 21st to honor four who've made a difference

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Foundation to Honor Four Who’ve Made A Difference for Norris & the Nation

The Norris Foundation banquet will be held Friday, November 21st at Yankee Hill Country Club in Lincoln. The evening begins with a 5:30 pm social hour followed by a catered dinner at 6:30 with dessert and awards to follow afterward. Tickets and table reservations may be made in advance by contacting Kim Brodersen at 402-791-0000 or by email at

This year’s Foundation banquet will honor the following:
TITANS AWARD winners (distinguished service to the Norris District):
Randy Bates
Wes & Betty Matthes

HALL OF FAME ALUMNI award (for outstanding achievements by a graduate of Norris):
Ben Prange, Class of 2002

Ben Prange, Class of 2002, Hall of Fame Alumni Award
Ben was serving in the highly dangerous Kandahar province of Afghanistan on his third overseas deployment when he was killed in August, 2014 when an IED device detonated, killing Ben and a fellow soldier.  As grandparents Kent and Carolyn learned of Ben’s passing, they also learned that Ben, as reflected his initiative, had volunteered to go on the patrol route that eventually cost him his life.

Ben had accomplished much in the service of his nation prior to his untimely death. Ben Prange’s military honors include Commendation Medals, an Achievement Medal, Good Conduct medals, and both a National Defense Service Medal and a Global War on Terrorism medal. He served in the military from January 2007 until his death in 2014.

As a Norris student, Prange was a member of the first Norris HS soccer teams as the program was adopted during his high school years. The HOF alumni award will be introduced by State Senator Norm Wallman (District 30 senator and former Norris BOE member) and  accepted by Kent and Carolyn Prange on behalf of the family. Ben had achieved the rank of US Army Staff Sergeant and was a member of the 2002 class of Norris.

Wes and Betty Matthes, winners of the Titan Award
Wes Matthes has worked for the Norris School District in one capacity (custodian, bus driver, and buildings and grounds director) or another for all of Norris’ 50 years, right through the present day as a transportation department team member, beginning with the founding of the district in 1964 and working out of Firth. Wes took over for a long run as Building and Grounds Superintendent in 1969. His wife Betty was a longtime Norris paraprofessional who worked with special needs students and served as a kindergarten para for over a decade.

Over the years, Betty and Wes have been fixtures at Norris events, proudly supporting Titans athletics both at home and on the road. They became known as two of the most ardent supporters of the Titans and Wes acknowledged that the couple are “huge sports fans.” Wes said “I don’t think we missed a ballgame or a graduation that was at Norris for at least thirty years.”  Betty described these earlier years of being on the Norris team as one of “feeling that you were a part of a really close and tight-knit family, and that’s just what we were.”

Randy Bates, winner of the Titan Award
Randy Bates was the Norris High School Assistant Principal and Activities Director (athletics and activities) for nearly a decade, from 2000-2009. During this time, Randy helped the district expand programs, rebuild from a tornado, and usher in a new era of sustained competitive success in interscholastic athletics across both boys and girls sports. He then oversaw the institution of the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame for several years after retiring from his post at Norris. 

Bates was one of the most distinguished and professionally commended Athletic Directors and school administrators to serve in the state of Nebraska. Awards Bates has previously received include:


  • A multi-time winner of district and regional athletic director of the year awards.
  • The national Central Region athletic director of the year award
  • State NSIAAA athletic director of the year
  • Induction to the HS Hall of Fame in Albia, Iowa


Bates’ career started out back in 1970 as a teacher and coach in Nishna Valley HS in Iowa and he continues to work in the field to this day as a sports and organizational leadership consultant with R & S Athletics Consulting.

Special after-dinner keynote from Rhonda Revelle
As if the preceding distinguished honorees are not enough, the Titans faithful assembled for the annual banquet November 21st will be treated to closing comments from Husker softball coach Rhonda Revelle, the 2014 Big Ten Coach of the Year who has led her Huskers to sustained national prominence. At the helm for nearly 850 Husker wins in the program, Revelle led the Huskers to their second straight top-ten national finish last year.

Tickets for the Foundation banquet may be obtained by calling the district office at 402-791-0000.