Jim Tenopir took the path from small-town Nebraska to the peak of high school sports in the United States. The Chief Operating Officer of the National Federation of State High School Associations from 2010-15, Tenopir oversaw the day-to-day operations of the organization that governs high school sports across the nation. He drew on experience gained as the Nebraska School Activities Association Executive Director from 2001 to 2010 – a position he returned to in 2015. A Harvard High School graduate, Tenopir’s coaching and teaching career started at Otis-Benson High School in Kansas in 1970. He returned to Nebraska two years later as a coach, teacher and administrator at McCook. He went on to serve as the athletic director at Scottsbluff and superintendent at Cambridge before accepting his position with the NSAA. During his career he has tackled several difficult issues, including athlete safety and transgender rights.
Athlete. In the last half of the 1970s, during the sprouting of sports programs for girls in Nebraska high schools, a scant few saw much more than the heels of Cindy Tatum of North Platte High School. If and when Cindy Tatum lost a high school race, it was to someone who was setting a state record or winning a gold medal. Her sprint resume is a good as it gets: Seven gold medals at the state meet, three consecutive gold medals in the 100 yard dash and 220-yard dash, district record holder in 50, 100 and 220 and Class A or state record holder in 50, 100 and 220. She paced her school to a team state championship.
Athlete. Class of 1959. Larry Tomlinson earned his place in Nebraska history when he caught the first touchdown pass for the first touchdown of the Bob Devaney era with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The O’Neill St. Mary’s standout had more than one play in his career. Tomlinson earned all-state honors while leading St. Mary’s to a No. 1 eight-man ranking in 1958, catching 26 passes for 560 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also set school scoring records in basketball where he was a four-year starter and averaged more than 20 points per game his senior year. In track, he set school records in the mile, the 120-yard high hurdles, the 180-yard low hurdles, the shot put, the discus and the 880-yard relay. He finished second to Hall of Fame inductee Bob Hohn in the state pentathlon meet. In college, he lettered three years for the Cornhuskers, playing end and linebacker. He went on to play three seasons in the Canadian Football League.
Athlete. Without question one of the best left-handed shooters ever to take the floor in Nebraska high school basketball, Kerry Trotter was a 1982 graduate of Creighton Preparatory High School in Omaha. His sensational career began as a freshman there and he was three times selected All-Metro and twice All-State. He scored a total of 1,672 points while in high school. In 1981 he led the Junior Blue Jays to a Class A Boys State Championship in basketball. His senior year he averaged 26.8 points a game and once scored 46 points in one game. Following graduation he had four fine years playing at Marquette University. One of the most significant historical facts was his inclusion in 1982 on the McDonald’s High School All-American Basketball Game where, as expected, he did well.
Class of 1995
Ed Thompson wasn’t the typical small-town superstar, he was the prototype. Whether it was football, basketball or track, Thompson excelled on teams that excelled. A three-year starter at quarterback, Thompson led the Cambridge Trojans to a 38-1 record. He earned all-state honors on offense, defense and as a punter. In basketball, he made 17 free throws in the district final, most in the fourth quarter, to get his team to the state tournament. In track, he set three school records, medaled at state all four years and scored 28 points his junior year to lead the team to the state title. At the University of Nebraska at Omaha, he led the Mavericks to two North Central Conference championships and in 1997 became the first player in NCAA Division II to run and pass for 1,000 yards, a feat he repeated the following year.
Athlete. This 1970 graduate of Broken Bow High School was a wrestler, a football player and a track man while there, but is best known for his accomplishments in the rough-and-tumble world of rodeo as a most athletic cowboy. While still in high school he was named nationally as champion in all around and calf roping in 1970. He was part of the professional rodeo circuit from 1977-1986. He was world champion calf roper in 1970, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association awarded him the World All-around Champion title in 1980.
LaVerne Torczon blazed a trail from Nebraska’s six-man fields to professional football where he earned the nickname “Tarzan Torczon” while playing for the Buffalo Bills, New York Titans/Jets and Miami Dolphins. At Platte Center, he was a three-year starter in football, playing end as a sophomore and running back his junior and senior years, which included a one-loss season in 1951. He lettered all four years in basketball, averaging more than 20 points per game his junior and senior seasons. A walk-on football player at Nebraska, he earned a scholarship after his freshman year and twice earned All-Big Seven honors as a lineman.
As a professional, he earned All-AFL honors at defensive end in 1960 and played in the 1961 AFL All-Star Game.
Athlete. This 1932 graduate of Max Rural High School in Dundy County set a lifetime example of the successful athlete. He single-handedly captured the 1932 Class D State Track Championship by winning four events and placing second in another. That was the sensational part of his career. The rest of the time, he was a rock solid performer. Next, at Hastings College he set a high jump record of 6-4 7/8 as well as doing well as a basketball player. He qualified in the decathlon for the 1940 Olympics not held due to World War II. From 1946 to 1982 he was a school administrator at Grant, helping to build the excellence in education and athletics this Perkins County school still enjoys. After retirement, he returned to the life of an athlete, setting a national javelin record in his age division in 1994 in the Senior Olympics.
Dennis Troester never strayed far from home or far from winning. In a 41-year coaching career, he won more than 1,000 games at Republican Valley/Southwest high schools. A Red Willow High School graduate, he returned home to begin his teaching career in 1971. His volleyball teams enjoyed the most success, winning seven state championships and finishing second five times. His teams claimed 21 conference and 12 district championships. He retired in 2012 with a record of 709-157 victories. In basketball, he logged a 337-206 record.
Official. Dick worked for 40 years officiating high school football, 20 years of officiating basketball, and was starter at the state track meet for 17 years. Dick was a member of the crew that worked the first Nebraska Shrine Bowl game plus some time in the Big 8. In the early 1950’s, he began a successful career in sporting good sales. Through business contacts with schools and his visibility as a game official, he became a well-known and highly respected ally of high school sports. He graduated from Jackson High in 1941. While in high school, he earned eight varsity letters in football, basketball, track and baseball. He enrolled in the University of Nebraska in 1942 and was a quarterback on the football team.