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TJ Hall of Fame inductees have hit home runs in many different fields
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TJ Hall of Fame inductees have hit home runs in many different fields

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Martin BrooksMartin Brooks is a lifelong resident of Council Bluffs and a 1977 graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School. While at TJ, he was a three-year member of the National Honor Society and co-editor-in-chief of the school newspaper. He also participated in baseball, basketball and tennis and graduated in the top 10% of his class.

He attended the University of Nebraska-Omaha. While at UNO, he worked for United Press International covering the College World Series and for a weekly newspaper in Waterloo, Nebraska.

Brooks began his career in banking in Council Bluffs in 1978 while attending UNO. Upon earning a degree in communication in 1981, he opted to stay in banking. He worked extensively in community bank management, overseeing multiple branches in Council Bluffs, southwest Iowa and the Omaha region. He retired in spring 2021 from his full-time position as first vice president at American National Bank.

Brooks is currently on the Council Bluffs Water Works Board, the Midlands Humane Society Board, and is active on the Peace Church of the Brethren Leadership Team and the Council Bluffs Community School District Career and Technical Education Advisory Committee. He is a charter member of the COBRA Optimist Club, a local service organization dedicated to serving youth sports. The club started as a grassroots effort in 1997 and now serves over 1,000 families throughout southwest Iowa. Brooks is a graduate of Leadership Council Bluffs.

Other community groups with which Brooks has served include the Micah House, the Bluffs Arts Council and Foundation, the SWI Educational Foundation, the Iowa Western Community College Dorms, Chanticleer Theater and the Iowa Bankers Association Marketing Committee. Brooks also chaired the Renaissance Faire of the Midlands, and he remains active in youth activities through involvement in administering social media sites that highlight positive activities of students.

He married Anne Smith, also a TJ graduate, in 1979. Anne is a teacher in the Council Bluffs Community School District. In 2015, Anne Brooks was honored as Teacher of the Year for the District. The couple has two grown daughters, Lynsi and Jillian, and six grandchildren. Both of their daughters are graduates of TJ.

Brooks is proud of his 43-plus years in the banking industry and service to the community and added that he is honored for the recognition and pleased to be a part of three generations of family that graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School.

Holly Wagner HoweHolly Wagner Howe is a third-generation graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School. Her mom, Sandy Schwartz, and all of her brothers and sister, along with her grandfather Alfred Schwartz, graduated from TJ.

At TJ, she was on the dance team, a member of National Honor Society and was the in-depth editor of the newspaper. It was in Deb Goodman’s journalism class she found her love for news. After graduating in 1995, she attended college at University of Nebraska-Omaha and graduated with a degree in communications with a major in broadcasting. She was fortunate to get a spot as an intern at WOWT-TV Channel 6 while completing college. Her first real broadcasting job was as a producer of the weekend morning newscast at WOWT. She quickly realized she wanted to be out on the scene, interviewing people and writing stories, so she moved on to 10/11 News in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Some of her most memorable stories include covering the remembrance services of U.S. soldiers who died serving our country following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, flying in a helicopter with Gov. Mike Johanns following the devastating F4 tornado in Hallum, and all of the coaching changes in Nebraska football. She won several Associated Press awards for news coverage in Lincoln.

Howe’s next move was to Southwest Florida. Her first day on the job was one week after Hurricane Charley hit. Over the next two months, she covered three more hurricanes: Frances, Ivan and Jeanne.

“Yes, I was one of those ridiculous-looking reporters standing out in torrential rain and wind,” she said.

She covered the crime beat for a couple of years and then became a weekend morning anchor. She won a Southwest Regional Emmy for a feature story about a World War II veteran who met his son for the first time.

After that, Howe moved to Minneapolis, where she joined the WCCO-TV morning show as a reporter. Some of her most memorable stories there include covering presidential visits, the legislature and the bitterly cold weather. She had the opportunity to do a few live reports for “CBS This Morning.”

She met her husband Brandon in 2010 — the day after the roof collapsed on the Metrodome due to heavy snow. She has two daughters, Emelia and Gabrielle, and has been a stay-at-home mom since Gabby was born. She now spends her time raising her girls and is a substitute teacher at her children’s elementary school.

Brandon McDaniel

Brandon McDaniel graduated in 2002 from Thomas Jefferson. He was a member of the football, track, Ironman and baseball teams. He also was a member of the basketball team his freshman and sophomore years. On top of the sports that he played, Brandon was in marching and jazz band and the editor of the sports section of the school newspaper.

After graduating, he attended the University of South Dakota for two years, where he was on the baseball team and began his path to becoming a coach by majoring in physical education. Following the elimination of the USD Coyote Baseball Team in 2004, he transferred to Wayne State College and finished his degree in exercise science. He was part of the conference champion and regional qualifying baseball teams in 2005 and 2006 at Wayne State.

McDaniel’s love for baseball did not stop after college. To complete his degree from Wayne State, he participated in an internship with the Pittsburgh Pirates at their spring training facility in Bradenton, Florida. Following his internship, he was offered a full-time position with the organization and became a strength coach for the Gulf Coast Pirates. He was promoted the following season to the Altoona Curve, where he spent two seasons as the AA strength coach within the Pirates organization.

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In the off-seasons, he worked at Life Time Fitness in Omaha as a personal trainer. This is where he met his wife, Andrea. His next move was to Baltimore to work in the Department of Defense as a strength and conditioning coach. After nearly two years of working with the DOD, baseball came calling again.

McDaniel accepted a job with the Los Angeles Dodgers as the AAA strength coach in 2012. After one season in Albuquerque, he was promoted to Los Angeles to be a Major League Baseball strength and conditioning coach. In 2018, he was promoted to director of athletic development and performance science and in 2020 to director of player performance. He was recently promoted to vice president of player performance.

He has been part of nine consecutive Dodger playoff teams, three World Series teams and, most importantly, the 2020 World Series Champion team. He has trained multiple MVPs, Cy Young Award winners and future Hall-of-Famers. However, the most important players he has trained are his three sons: Caleb, 7; Turner, 6; and Asher, almost 2.

McDaniel credits being a third-generation graduate of Thomas Jefferson and being raised in a neighborhood surrounded by hard-working, blue-collar individuals for his career success. Without the influence of his grandparents (Mary Alice was a graduate of TJ), his parents (both his mom and dad were graduates of TJ), and his brother, David, who was also a graduate of Thomas Jefferson, he would not be where he is today. The fact that many of the same coaches that were there when his parents were in high school are still coaching TJ athletes today shows how special it is to grow up in the West End of Council Bluffs.

Michael Patten

Michael Patten was born and raised in Council Bluffs. His brother, David, and sister, Jill, both graduated from Thomas Jefferson and still live in the Council Bluffs area. Michael is married to Tara Patten [Brooks], also a graduate of Thomas Jefferson. They have three grown children Travis, 34; Noah, 24; and Madelyn, 23.

Patten played multiple sports in high school; one year of football, three years of cross country, and four years of basketball and track before graduating in 1990. He was involved in many activities throughout high school, including; band, jazz band, chamber choir, Jefferson Edition, orchestra, Kid Chem, theatre, National Honor Society, and many other activities. He lettered many times in high school. He graduated third in his class with a cumulative grade point average of 3.97 (4.0 scale).

He attended South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, where he majored in chemical engineering. He graduated with a cumulative GPA of 3.8/4.0, making the Dean’s List every semester in college. He did a co-op with The Dow Chemical Company three semesters while attending college.

Patten has worked for The Dow Chemical Company for 27 years in several locations and many different business and functional units. He started working full-time for Dow in 1995 in Ludington, Michigan, where he served for nine years, mainly working in operations and improvements working on small projects. He had accountability for production targets, EH&S performance, small engineering efforts, both shutdown and maintenance schedules, as well as overall project implementation across most of the business units within the Ludington site.

He moved to Louisiana, where he continued working mainly as a project and/or program manager. His roles expanded in breadth and scope within the water soluble polymers and Dow elastomers polyethylene business units. His roles included improvement engineer, global improvement leader, and global business capital director for performance plastics. He left the Louisiana site having held accountability for project implementation efforts for all of Dow’s plastics portfolio.

Patten moved to Houston for a marketing opportunity within Dow’s elastomers and wire and cable business units. He returned to the project space working on mega projects. One of his projects built the most complicated solution polyethylene production unit in the world.

He remains part of the mega project world, this time on a multi-phased rehabilitation program for large ethylene production units in the Plaquemine, Louisiana facility. Over the course of his career at Dow, he has managed hundreds of small, large, and mega capital projects, maintenance, and expense projects for Dow. In total, Michael has had accountability exceeding $5 billion of project execution for the Dow Chemical Company.

Bob Wahl

Bob Wahl graduated from Thomas Jefferson in 1974 and played football for three years. Upon graduating, he went to work for the Chicago-Northwestern Railroad. His father suggested he enter the family business, and in 1990, he became the sole owner of Wahl Optical.

As owner of Wahl Optica, he strives to give back to the community. His accountant keeps reminding him that he only has one business and not 10, when it comes to his philanthropic interests.

Wahl’s main passion has been and still is softball. He has sponsored men’s, women’s and coed teams for the last 40-plus years and played for both the men’s and coed teams. His teams have won more than 2,800 games and 45 state championships in Iowa and Nebraska. No other sponsorship in Iowa or Nebraska has as many state championships as Wahl Optical. He attributes his success in business and athletics to his competitive personality. His women’s team finished second at a world tournament.

Wahl was inducted into the Omaha Softball Hall of Fame twice — once as a coach and once as a player. He was also inducted into the Midwest Softball Hall of Fame in 2019.

“It was quite an honor to be inducted into both hall of fames, and quite a few players I have coached have been inducted as well,” he said.

Wahl has sponsored little league teams for boys and girls in softball and other sports. He still puts on hitting clinics for various groups.

“I believe you have to give back to the community, and I try to do that,” he said.

Wahl is also a member of the Carter Lake Parks and Recreation Board, the Carter Lake Festival Board and Corpus Christi Catholic Parish.

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