With the spring sports season canceled, Activities Director Bubba Penas and coach Emanuel Maldonado have had their Blair High School stints end without proper goodbyes.
Penas is moving on from BHS to a position with Papillion-La Vista Community Schools — he spent nearly nine years at Papillion-La Vista South before his three in Blair — while Maldonado is moving on to Gretna.
“There's a very good group of kids up there in Blair,” said the latter, a now former BHS boys soccer coach.
Last spring's soccer run to the district finals was his favorite memory, though he also enjoyed his time as a Bears football assistant and a junior high basketball coach.
Maldonado said his student-athletes were always very coachable and he had healthy relationships with them, which made his decision to leave a hard one. The lack of a soccer season this spring made it all that much more difficult.
“I think we were going to have a good year this year,” he said.
Penas, meanwhile, will hand over the keys of the BHS activities department to new director Dan Hutsell this summer. The final sporting event he oversaw in person was a basketball game.
The AD recently wrote a message to the Blair community, which is printed, in full, below:
“Blair is an amazing community with so many great people! We have been blessed to have been a part of this community for three years.
We love our neighbors, we love the school and we love living in Blair. We are excited for our next adventure, and we will leave here with heavy hearts as we have connected and built so many relationships with so many people in the community. I have always felt that if we take care of those around us, those around us will take care of us.
Although we have only lived in Blair for three years, we have felt like it's been forever. The people, the kids, the businesses, the city and so many others take pride in what they do. I knew Blair was a good fit for our family and it's a place I felt we'd be forever. It is a community that cares about people and when you care about people, the rest will take care of itself. We will truly miss Blair.
My hope is to always leave a place better than I found it. I hope that I have left Blair in a better place. Once a Bear, always a Bear!”