By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
He grew up a multi-sport athlete in Nebraska, continued to excel in athletics at his hometown college and was inducted into his college's hall of fame honoring its undefeated football season of 1954.
Now, Gene Fleharty is entering a second Hall of Fame -- at his second home.
Fleharty, scorekeeper for more than 50 years for the Fort Hays State University men's basketball team, is entering the Tiger Sports Hall of Fame.
He will be honored at a ceremony Saturday morning along with five other inductees and at halftime of the afternoon football game at Lewis Field Stadium with nationally ranked Northwest Missouri State. The other inductees of the 2014 class are Mike Allen (football), Lonnie Gee (cross country and track), Nate Rollins and Daryl Stockstill (basketball) and Vandora Wilson (women's track and field).
Fleharty -- a native of Hastings, Neb., where he played three sports for Hastings College -- came to Fort Hays as a biology instructor in 1962, and has been keeping book for Tiger basketball games ever since.
He added women's basketball to his nightly FHSU scorekeeping routine several years ago when his wife was embarrassed about him chiding a referee during a women's game and told him maybe he should go to the scorer's table for women's games too, where he couldn't comment to referees about calls.
He did just that, and he's been there ever since.
Fleharty -- who retired from FHSU in 1999 after 37 years as a biology professor, the last 11 as the department chair -- is being inducted into the Tiger Sports Hall of Fame in the contributor category, and that's not only for the time he has given as a scorekeeper.
Fleharty and his wife, JoAnn, have for years given financial support to sports not fully funded, specifically softball.
In fact, the Flehartys provided the funds for a new scoreboard at Tiger Stadium a few years ago, and provided some funding for other renovations last year.
"We decided we were able to give some money to athletics," Fleharty said, "and I sat down with (FHSU Athletic Director) Curtis Hammeke and asked which teams need it most, the ones that aren't fully funded."
He said he is honored for being recognized.
"I never started keeping score or helped the athletic department with the thought there would be a reward at the end," Fleharty said.
"But I do really appreciate it. It's humbling."
Fleharty stays busy attending FHSU events, working out at a local gym six days a week and his long-time hobby of wildlife wood carving.
Both the Flehartys' children graduated from Fort Hays, and Fleharty said he and his wife never seriously considered leaving Hays in retirement, partly because of FHSU's athletic programs, its fine arts and Forsyth Library.
"We talked about (moving)," he said, "but most of he people we know live here. Moving away from what you're comfortable with, as you are getting older, has to be stressful."
Besides, Fleharty has been around education and athletics all his life.
His dad taught chemistry at Hastings College, and Fleharty participated in four sports-- football, basketball, track and gymnastics -- in high school, then stayed home to go to college.
Hastings College didn't have a gymnastics program, and "I wasn't good enough to play basketball in college," Fleharty said.
So he played tennis in college, along with playing football and running track.
Fleharty was a four-year starter for the Bronco football team, which went undefeated his junior year.
He played tackle on both sides of the line, and at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds "was the second heaviest player on the team."
"Times have changed, haven't they," he said with a smile.
Times will change this winter for the Tiger basketball team.
For the first time since 1962, there will be a different scorekeeper for the men's games.
"I noticed the last couple of years that by about halftime of the men's games, I was getting really tired," said Fleharty, who turned 80 last week. "So I decided to go back to doing just one game."
Then he can sit in the stands and watch the men's games and relax, unless of course his wife tells him to get back to the scorer's table.
Following are bios on the other five Tiger Sports Hall of Fame inductees besides Gene Fleharty for the class of 2014.
* Mike Allen, a native of Denver, was a two-time All-American (at defensive back and linebacker) while playing for the Tiger football team from 1987-90.
He was the team leader in tackles his junior season with 82, had four interceptions two different years, helped lead the Tigers to the NAIA playoffs his senior season still holds the career interceptions record at FHSU with 14.
Allen also excelled in the classroom, earning academic All-America honors his senior year.
* Lonnie Gee was a four-time All-American for the Tiger cross country and track team from 1978-81. The Iuka native came to Fort Hays to run for legendary Coach Alex Francis and earned all-conference and all-District 10 honors numerous times. He helped the Tigers win the Central States Intercollegiate Conference track and field outdoor title in 1980, then that fall helped lead FHSU to a fourth-place finish at the NAIA national cross country meet.
* Nate Rollins brought a lot of excitement to Tiger men's basketball in the early 1980s, leading FHSU to a third-place finish at the NAIA national tournament in 1983, then to its first of back-to-back national titles the next year.
A two-time All-American, he averaged a double-double his junior year, with 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds, then shot 62.1 percent from the field (10th best in FHSU history) when he averaged 17.9 points.
Although playing just two years for the Tigers, Rollins ranks 10th on the all-time school scoring list with 1,229 points and is fifth in career scoring average (18.9) and fifth in single-season rebounding (11.7).
* A native of Geneseo, Daryl Stockstill was an NAIA All-American his senior year of basketball in 1970-71 and earned all-league and all-District 10 honors both his years at FHSU after transferring from Hutchinson Community College.
He averaged a double-double both years as a Tiger (19.1 points and 11.5 rebounds as a junior and 18.2 pts., 11 reb. his senior year). That rebound total his junior season ranks him sixth best in FHSU history. Other top 10 lists include 265 free throws out of 343 attempts, 10th; 18.7 career scoring average, seventh; 76.7 percent free-throw percentage his junior year and 77 percent his senior year, eight and ninth, respectively.
* Vandora Wilson was a six-time All-American as a thrower during her career in the early 1980sA native of Topeka, Wilson was a national runner-up four times, finishing in the top three of both shot put and discus in 1981 and 1983.
Her discus throw of 156 feet, 9 inches still stands today on the Tiger women's record board, the oldest standing women's outdoor record at Fort Hays.