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, Stephanie Thomas Clark played every sport she could. The 1988 McCool Junction graduate collected honors enough for more than one person. She was all-conference three years in volleyball and four years in basketball. With her stats one would think that there should have been a re-count on the volleyball votes her freshman year. However, she was all-state her sophomore through senior years in volleyball, being selected Class D-1 Honorary Captain those years. She helped her team to the state championship in 1986. In basketball she was all-state for three years, being selected the Class D-1 Honorary Captain for the two years she made the all-class all-state squad. Steph had a career total of 1,743 points and was ranked third on the Nebraska all-time scoring list. In track she set school records in the 100- and 400-meter dashes, the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, the long jump and high jump. She set state meet records in the high jump and the 100-meter hurdles. Her personal best of 5 feet 7 ½ inches in the high jump was, according to prep historian Jerry Mathers, just three and one-half inches above her head. She earned an athletic scholarship to Creighton, but a back injury kept her from reaching full potential. After graduating from college in 1993 she went to Angelo State University as a graduate assistant, and then to the University of Illinois at Chicago as an assistant women’s basketball coach and recruiting coordinator. In 1996 she started a three-year stint as the head women’s basketball coach at Odessa College in Texas.
Heather Taggart led Millard North to the state soccer championships in 1988, recording 10 shutouts and earning all-state honors. The three-sport standout played a state championship team in volleyball (1987), winning all-state honors in this sport, too. She gained state honors in basketball. She became a record-setting soccer goalkeeper at the University of Wisconsin. Wisconsin went to the NCAA finals all four years she was there, losing in the 1991 final. She was the Big 10 Female Athlete of the Year in 1992. She was inducted into Wisconsin’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001.
Irv Thode was a dominating all-around athlete in high school. His 6-foot-3 high jump was the unofficial national schoolboy best in 1949. He was gold medalist in the long jump in 1948 (21-9) and 1949 (22-3) and the high jump in 1949 at the state meet. He was on the 1948 Class C All-State football team. He received state honors in basketball. He went on to attend the University of Nebraska where he was on the track team from 1951-53.
Athlete. Bottom line in the outstanding high school track career for Kathy (Travis) Miiller: She never lost an individual race during an NSAA-sanctioned event. She also was a volleyball all-stater and the female high school athlete of the year in 1991. In her four starring years of track at Lincoln Christian, she led her team to three state championships and one runner-up finish. She was a 14-time state champion at the state track meet, with nine of those all-class gold medal performances, including a Class C record in the 400. At the University of Nebraska, she lettered four years and won 12 Big Eight championships. She was All-American six different times in relays and sprint races. Lives in Bismark, ND.
Athlete. A seven-year NFL player, Charlie Toogood got his start as a high school star in North Platte. Toogood was a two-time all-state football player in 1943 and 1944 at tackle. He also won the gold medal in the shot put at the 1945 state track meet with a throw of 47 feet, ¼ inch. Toogood went on to play college football at the University of Nebraska. Besides being a 1950 team captain, Toogood was an All-Big Seven selection in 1949 and 1950. In 1950, he played in the East-West Shrine Bowl. Toogood played for the Los Angeles Rams from 1951 to 1956 and was part of the Rams team that beat the Cleveland Browns for the NFL championship. He then played for the Chicago Cardinals during the 1957 season and for the New York Giants during the 1958 season. In 1984 Toogood was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame.
Athlete–When Lexington High School graduated this husky young man in 1958, he had just completed two years as a terrific center on football teams of the Minutemen. In the fall of 1957, for example, they had an undefeated season over almost all Class A opponents ending the year as state champion according to many observers. As a University of Nebraska Cornhusker, he lettered three years between 1959.and 1961, including the great victory in 1959 over Oklahoma. He then played for 17 years in professional football as starting center for the Minnesota Vikings, getting to the Super Bowl four times. Unlike some former football players, Mick Tingelhoff emerged from his great football career without serious injury.
Athlete, Class of 1976. In the early days of girls athletics, Laura Tietjen dominated. A four-year starter in volleyball and basketball, Tietjen made her mark early, scoring 30 points in her first basketball game as a freshman. Throughout her career she had multiple games of 40 points or more, twice scoring 49 points and twice more breaking the 50-point barrier. Tietjen’s 57 points against Ohiowa, stood as the Nebraska single-game scoring record for the next 12 years. In her senior season, Tietjen led Byron to a 14-0 record, averaging 38 points and 15 rebounds per game. An all-class, all-state selection, she went on to play at the University of Nebraska, setting a single-game records for free throws (14 of 14) and the single-season record for free-throw percentage (.861). Professionally, she served as coach and teacher at Columbus High School and the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She entered into athletics administration at UNK and in 1998 became only one of 19 female Athletics Directors in Division I while serving at the University of Evansville.
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.