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Bobcats Basketball star Don Nelson’s #33 jersey officially retired

Bobcats Basketball star Don Nelson’s #33 jersey officially retired
Jerry Gazaway (left) and Tom Kurth (right) were teammates of Don Nelson’s during the 1961 championship season.

A celebration more than 60 years in the making took place during halftime of Friday evening’s MHS Boys Basketball game vs. Waterloo East, as legendary Bobcats center Don Nelson’s #33 jersey was officially retired.

While Don and his wife, Janet, were unable to accept the honor in-person, several of his former teammates and peers gathered at the Roundhouse to publicly celebrate the Bobcat star’s illustrious high school basketball career. The event was recorded and live streamed so the Nelsons could enjoy the ceremony.

Nelson’s former teammates Jerry Gazaway and Tom Kurth (pictured, at right), as well as Regina Petersohn – wife of former teammate Mike Petersohn – were among those who accepted retirement of the #33 jersey. Former Bobcats Basketball cheerleaders Karen Davis and Jackie Bolar were also among the group, as was Ev Cochrane, Jr., son of Nelson’s former head coach Ev Cochrane.

Nelson was a key player in the Bobcats’ back-to-back state championships in 1960 and 1961. He also earned the following recognitions:

  • 1st Team All-State (1960 & 1961)
  • 1st Team All-CIC Conference (1960 & 1961)
  • Inducted into the Iowa High School Athletic Association Boys Basketball Hall of Fame (1994)
  • Des Moines Register’s List of the 50 best Iowa High School Boys’ Basketball Stars of All Time (2018)

The framed jersey at the center of Friday evening’s ceremony is a replica of Nelson’s original jersey. It will be commemorated with a place in the MHS Trophy Room, and will feature engraved plates generously donated by Adland Engraving.

Congratulations to Don Nelson, and thank you to all of the Bobcats who helped us celebrate his accomplishments on Friday evening!

Former Bobcats Basketball teammates, cheerleaders, and their family members gather for the official retirement ceremony for Don Nelson’s #33 jersey.
The state-qualifying 2007-08 Bobcats Basketball team was also recognized at Friday evening’s game.