Few football coaches lead a school to 100 victories. Carl Tesmer did it at two schools, climbing into the rarified air of 300-plus coaching victories. At the time of his induction, Tesmer had put together a 339-89-2 record, 39 winning seasons, 13 undefeated regular seasons and more than 25 top-ten teams in a 41-year career as head coach. He led his alma mater, GICC, to the state finals three times. He then won three state titles at St. Cecilia in 2000, 2009 and 2010. Known for his passion about coaching, Tesmer has a reputation for building up those around him.
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. 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.
Earning the nickname “Dean the Dream” for his smooth, fluid playing style, Dean Thompson could score like few others. He had outside range, couild drive to the basket and pull up and shoot on a dime. At Omaha Westside, Thompson led the Warriors to the Class A boys basketball championship as a senior, averaging 23 points per game and gaining all-state honors. Voted to the golden-anniversary Metro Conference Holiday Tournament Basketball team, Thompson also made an indelible mark on the basketball program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Playing before the advent of the 3-point line or the shot clock, Thompson set the school scoring record with 1,816 points, a record that still stands. He played in 117 games, leading the Mavericks to three NCAA Division II tournaments.
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.