The 2017 Scholar-Athlete Awards Banquet will be held on Saturday, March 17, 2018, in the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center on the campus of the University of Wyoming, Laramie.

2016 Special Award Recipients

Perseverance Award Winner
Zach Hoopman – Douglas High School

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As a freshman he thought he was invincible, but Zach Hoopman had to overcome a series of injuries in order to play football and become a valuable and inspirational member of his team. He was hoping to join a formidable list of great Bearcat tailbacks who had rushed for over 1,000 yards per season, but prior to his sophomore year he injured his shoulder at a pre-season football camp. Zach was plagued by chronic shoulder dislocations and instability that required off-season surgery following his sophomore and junior seasons. His coach Jay Rhoades says, “Zach was never the biggest player on the field, but no one has a bigger heart.” In the fifth game of his senior year he suffered a severe high ankle sprain, which limited his playing time until the playoffs, when he was instrumental in helping the Bearcats win their opening round game. The 5’6″, 155-pound tailback and linebacker played through the pain and frustration long enough to become a two-time First Team All-Conference and All-State selection. Zach was a team captain as a junior and a senior and was named a 2016 United States Army Reserve National Scholar-Athlete. He has also lettered in wrestling and track, where he is an all-state performer. Zach has a 4.0 grade point average, scored a 30 on his ACT, and ranks 1st in a class of 140. He is a two-year member of the National Honor Society and a three-year member of the Student Council, where he serves as Vice President. Zach helped organize a “Tour de Wish Race” for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, wrapped gifts for Noel Christmas Giving, read to children at the library, collected provisions for our troops in Afghanistan, and coached at a youth football camp. He plans to attend the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology where he will study chemistry and play football. His proud parents are Justin and Melissa Hoopman.

Former Perseverance Award Winners
Josh Wilhelm (Lingle-Ft. Laramie) – 2006
Firdose Kahn (Sheridan) – 2007
Nathan Rogers (Rock Springs) – 2008
Chuck Maike II (Wheatland) – 2009
Ryder Bishop (Burns) – 2012
Shane Brooks (East High School) – 2013
Shane Brooks (East High School) – 2014
Jaxn Kobza(Tongue River High School) – 2015

Keith & Joyce Bloom Courage Award Winner
Skyler Dillon-Bennett – Tongue River High School

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Life isn’t always fair, and Skyler Dillon Bennett has dealt with more than his share of uncertainty, pain, and disappointment. With both parents incarcerated, he and his brother and sister have lived with his grandparents in Ranchester most of their lives. When Skyler was in the fifth grade, he was talked into playing football in the city recreational league by one of his friends, Mason Schroder; and football gradually became a part of his life. Thanks to the love and support of his family, friends, and a coach who cared, he’s had the courage to face life’s challenges and work through the setbacks. In the eighth grade Skyler was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia, an abnormal heartbeat, and had surgery at the Denver Children’s Hospital during his freshman year. Although he was initially afraid of strenuous physical activity, he played football as a sophomore; but his junior season ended before halftime of the first game, when a torn ACL sent him to the sidelines. Unable to play, and seeing the Eagles advance to the 1A state championship game drove Skyler into a deep depression. With the encouragement of his family and teammates, he overcame self-doubts and had a memorable senior year. A three-year letterman, the 5’11”, 290-pound offensive guard and defensive tackle helped lead the Eagles back to the state championship game and was named First Team All-Conference and All-State. Skyler has a 3.0 grade point average and is active in FCCLA, the Native American Club, and Sources of Strength; and participates in band, choir, and drama; where he earned the lead in the 2016 spring play for the second consecutive year. Skyler has been involved in a variety of school-related community service projects. He plans to attend the University of Northern Colorado and study psychology. Skyler has said, “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of my grandparents,” John and Donna Dillon.

Former Courage Award Winners
Michael Bullocks (Evanston) – 2000
Spence McArthur (Lovell) – 2001
Dusty Dinnel (Mountain View) – 2002
David Mills (Ten Sleep) – 2002
Travis Kumpula (Glenrock) – 2003
Andrew Jensen (Guernsey-Sunrise) – 2004
Michael Knoll (Kemmerer) – 2005
Christopher Cielinski (Glenrock) – 2006
Logan Wright (Mountain View) – 2006
Jordon Cooney (Pine Bluffs) – 2007
Brett Johnson (Kemmerer) – 2008
Bobby Andersen (Riverside) – 2009
Jacob Hepp (Buffalo) – 2010
Derek Bacon (Pine Bluffs) – 2010
Jacob McGarvin (Worland)  – 2012
Michael Lamb (Big Horn High School) – 2013
Michael Yeradi (Wright High School) – 2014
Cameron Myers (Cody High School) – 2015

Greatest UW Football Fans

Jim Moore – Douglas

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JIM MOORE – Douglas

A true Wyoming cowboy, Jim Moore was a rodeo cowboy and rancher who ran sheep and cattle on his ranch located twenty miles northeast of Midwest for most of his life. He has been a fan of Cowboy football since his freshman year of high school in 1957, and has had season tickets for nearly 50 years. Raised on a ranch, Jim attended a one-room country school through the eighth grade and then started at Natrona County High School. He graduated from Douglas High School in 1957, where he played football and was a three-time qualifier for the National High School Finals Rodeo. Following graduation, Jim attended the University of Wyoming and graduated in 1961, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture. As a member of the UW Men’s Rodeo team, he qualified three times for the NIRA national finals and was a member of the 1961 team that won the NIRA Finals; he was a handler of Cowboy Joe his last three years at the university. After spending two years in the army stationed in Germany, Jim returned to ranch and rodeo and qualified for the PRCA Finals in steer roping three times. He has traveled extensively across the country to follow the Cowboy football team and tries to attend several home football and basketball games and wrestling matches each year. Jim has given back to the community as a member of the Johnson County School Board, served as a Johnson County Commissioner, was a PRCA steer roping director, and was on the Wyoming High School Rodeo Board. In 2009 he was inducted into the UW Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame with other members of the 1961 Rodeo team. Jim has been married to his wife Georgia for 27 years and has 5 children, 9 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren.

Tom Roberts – Worland

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Tom Roberts is not the kind of Cowboy football fan who flies around inconspicuously “under the radar.” In 2010 he and his wife Betty purchased raffle tickets at the Cowboy Joe Club Auction in Cheyenne and golf tournament in Worland and won a brand new Camaro! It soon became known as the “Cowboy Camaro” with Pistol Pete on the hood, the Bucking Horse logo on the doors and trunk, and “Wyoming Cowboys” painted on the fenders. This is not surprising for someone who has been a Cowboy football fan for nearly 50 years and makes the 610-mile round-trip from Worland for all home games. A 1971 graduate of Kemmerer High School, Tom played football and basketball in high school and was introduced to Cowboy football as a junior when the Kemmerer football team traveled to Laramie to play University Prep in the old fieldhouse. The next day the team attended the Cowboy game against New Mexico, and he was hooked. Following graduation, Tom attended Billings Automotive Trade Center and has been an auto technician for 44 years; he is the owner of T.R.’s Auto Repair in Worland. An avid softball player until the age of 54, he met his wife Betty when she was umpiring one of his games. A long-time football season ticket holder and Cowboy Joe Club member, Tom was named the 2008-2009 State Farm Fan of the Year. He enjoys showing the “Cowboy Camaro” and his brown and gold golf cart to Cowboy notables when they are in Worland for the annual Cowboy Joe Club Golf Tournament, and he has their signatures on the roof of his golf cart to prove it. Tom’s favorite hobbies include hunting and fishing. He has been married to his wife Betty for 34 years and has four children and nine grandchildren.

Greatest High School Football Fans

Wes Grussendorf – Casper

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Sports have been called “a distraction from real-life;” but as participants or spectators know, sports entertain us and engage our minds, validate our competitive nature and inspire us at an emotional level, and let us believe that anything is possible. For 46 years, Wes Grussendorf has been a fixture at Natrona County High School and Casper College athletic events, musicals, and theatrical productions. He became interested in sports as a child while listening to Minnesota Golden Gopher football games on the radio with his father. An outstanding high school wrestler, he graduated from high school in Litchfield, Minnesota, in 1949. Following graduation, Wes worked as a surveyor in the local area before being drafted into the army in 1952. During the Korean War he did triangulation surveying for forward observation posts, radar stations, and artillery installations. When he returned from Korea, Wes utilized the GI Bill to attend college at the University of Minnesota and took advantage of the opportunity to attend home football and basketball games and hockey matches. He also flexed his muscles and entered the 1954 intramural wrestling tournament and won the 154 pound championship! Wes graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering in 1958 and began working on his Master’s Degree before going to work for Texaco as an operations supervisor. After moving to Casper in 1971, he worked for Natrona County School District Number One for 19 years as a maintenance supervisor before retiring in 1995. Wes attends Natrona County High School home football and basketball games, volleyball and wrestling matches, and track meets, and enjoys attending state culminating events. He also has season tickets for men’s and women’s basketball at Casper College. Wes has been married to Elaine for 61 years and has three children, eight grandchildren, and ten great grandchildren.

Rusty Jones – Wright

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 A stalwart supporter of every facet of student athletics and activities at Wright High School since 1988, Rusty Jones has given unselfishly of his time to provide exemplary leadership and service to the school and the community. A longtime statistician for the football team, he has been described by a former student-athlete as, “The type of person that every town in America needs, but many don’t have. His positive attitude, strong leadership skills, and sense of humor have provided students with the type of encouragement that makes a difference in their lives.” A 1981 graduate of Moorcroft High School, he was an all-conference football and all-state basketball player. Rusty has worked as a supervisor for the Bell Fouche Pipeline for 32 years. When he wasn’t working or taking statistics, he was busy coaching his kids in little league baseball and recreation league basketball, served at Wright High School as an assistant boys’ basketball coach from 1998 to 2004, and as an assistant girls’ basketball coach from 2011 to 2014, all on a voluntary basis! Rusty is an active member of the Prairie View Assembly of God Church where he has served as a board member for 12 years, is a Youth Fellowship leader for 7th through 12th grade students, and has organized Christian Rock Concerts. He also serves on the Parent Advisory Board for the Wright Schools. For his efforts, Rusty was named the Wright Community Citizen of the Year in 2004 and the 2014 Panther Fan of the Year. All three of his sons played football at Wright and were Shrine Bowl participants, and two were honored by the Wyoming Chapter as Scholar-Athlete Finalists. Rusty’s hobbies include traveling and collecting coins. He has been married to his wife Shanda for thirty-two years and has four children and three grandchildren.

Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football

John Cundall – Rock Springs

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JOHN CUNDALL – Rock Springs

Compassion is something that is innate in people who unselfishly give of their time and energy to help others. Whether it has involved playing, coaching, refereeing, or working as the executive director of the Wyoming Shrine Bowl, the game of football has given meaning to John Cundall’s life and allowed him to give back to others. He graduated from Glendo High School in 1980, where he was a state champion shot putter and participated in football and track. Following graduation, he farmed before going back to school and attending Chadron State College, where he was a team captain and a three-year starter at tackle on the football team. John graduated in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education in mathematics and business. He began his teaching and coaching career in Hemingford, Nebraska, before moving to Rushville to become the head football coach, a position he has held in Gering, Gillette, and Greybull. During his 28 years of teaching he has also made stops in Kemmerer and Rock Springs; and served as the Director of Activities/Athletics in Greybull. In fifteen years as a head coach his teams made the playoffs twelve times, and he has been associated with teams that made 17 playoff appearances, played in 10 semi-final and 6 championship games, and won two state titles. John has coached in the Shrine Bowl five times and was the head coach twice; and he has served as the executive director of the Wyoming Shrine Bowl for the past five years. He has also officiated football, basketball, and track and is a past president of the Wyoming Coaches Association. His hobbies include camping, traveling, and working in his shop. John has been married to his wife Kris for 29 years and has three children and two grandchildren.

John Pine – Sheridan

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JOHN PINE – Sheridan

Fittingly described by the Sheridan Press as, “A connoisseur of the box score,” John Pine loves sports and is very good with numbers. His fascination with sports statistics began at an early age when he learned how to keep score at a professional baseball game. After graduating from Sheridan High School in 1970 where he was a member of the golf team, he attended Sheridan College and in 1972 became the official scorekeeper for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, a position which he still holds today. In 1973 John began keeping statistics for the recreation department’s “Little Guy Football” program, and in 1975 he began doing the stats for the Sheridan High School football team. In 42 years he’s missed only two home football games and he’s crunched the numbers at 11 of Sheridan’s 25 state championship games. Over the years he has also kept statistics for Normative Services and Big Horn and Tongue River High Schools. Although many of the schools in the state now utilize computer software programs to do their statistics, John continues to take stats with colored pens and uses his color coding system with pinpoint accuracy. Although his work is largely unseen until after the game, Sheridan Bronc head football coach Don Julian has called him, “The finest statistician in the state.” John began working at Bino’s Grocery Store when he was fourteen and retired in 2013 after working there for forty-four years. He now works as a volunteer at the Greenhouse Nursing Home and recently started running the scoreboard for freshman and junior varsity football games and varsity and junior varsity soccer matches. John also umpires Babe Ruth and Little League Baseball games and referees youth basketball games. Last year he played 114 rounds of golf; he also enjoys fishing.

Ox Zellner Football Official Career Achievement Award

Keith Gemar – Gillette

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KEITH GEMAR – Gillette

Most sports officials start officiating because of their passion for sports or love of the game, but Keith Gemar began officiating in 1978 when he was coaxed by a group of his friends at work to help them out because they needed another member for their crew. He obviously enjoyed the camaraderie and the opportunity to give back to the youth in his community and around the state because he officiated football, basketball, and track for 37 years. Keith graduated from high school in Springfield, South Dakota, in 1970, where he was an all-conference football player and participated in basketball and track. Following graduation, he attended Gonzaga University and graduated from the University of South Dakota, Springfield in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education. Keith began his teaching career in the junior high school in Wall, South Dakota, where he taught math and coached cross-country, boys and girls basketball, and track. He moved to Gillette in 1978 and taught at Twin Spruce Junior High School, worked in the oil and gas industry and sold insurance, and retired from teaching at Sage Valley Junior High School in 2016. Highlights of his officiating career include the road trips he took, the friendships he developed, and the stories he shared with his peers, as well as the 15 football and 10 basketball state championship games he worked. Keith has served as secretary, treasurer, and president of the Gillette Officials Association and was an area representative. He has been a football clinician and has received WHSAA Football, Basketball, and Track Official of the Year Awards and was inducted into the WSOA Hall of Fame in 2014. Keith enjoys golfing, watching sports, and spending time with his grandkids. He has been married to wife Shelley for 43 years and has two children and two grandchildren.

Football Coach Career Achievement Award

Gary Jahnke – Gillette

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GARY JAHNKE – Gillette

Gary Jahnke is the first junior high/middle school coach to receive the Football Coaching Career Achievement Award. He began his teaching and coaching career in 1968 at Central Junior High School in Gillette, which later became Twin Spruce Junior High School. Affectionately called “Yonks,” he taught social studies and coached football, wrestling, and track there for 39 years before retiring in 2007. This is impressive when you consider that at this level the emphasis is upon participation and involves recruiting kids and keeping them out, keeping them eligible, and coaching fundamentals at the “grass-roots” level. As a coach, Gary had to balance wins and losses with the ability to be positive and patient, have realistic expectations, model good sportsmanship, and get along with parents. A 1961 graduate of Rapid City Central High School, Gary enrolled in college for a short time before working at the Wall, South Dakota, missile site. After meeting his wife Marilyn, they eloped and started a family; he went back to school at Black Hills State University, where he graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education. The most rewarding aspects of his coaching career have been the close bonds he developed with the coaches and athletes he had the privilege of working with. Gary was recognized as Campbell County School District Number One Certified Employee of the Year in 1990 and was named Junior High Coach of the Year twice. In 2005 he was selected as the WCA Junior High/Middle School Coach of the Year, and in 2012 he received WCA Milestone Awards and was inducted into the WCA Junior High/Middle School Coaches Hall of Fame. His hobbies include fishing, camping, cooking, and playing bridge. Gary has been married to his wife Marilyn for 53 years and has two children and three grandchildren.

Gary Glenn – Douglas

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Few people have had as much fun or enjoyed the camaraderie of working with kids and coaches as much as Gary Glenn. During the past 45 years he has coached and officiated junior and senior high school football, basketball, and track; and is still at it! A 1967 graduate of Pine Bluffs High School, Gary overcame a serious accident to become an all-state basketball player and the Athlete of the Year as a senior. Following graduation, he attended Chadron State College and was a three-year starter at offensive tackle on the football team. Gary graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Education in 1972, and began a teaching and coaching odyssey that took him to Hot Springs, South Dakota, and Riverton, Douglas, and Casper, before retiring from Converse County School District Number One in 2011. Gary was a head high school football coach for 16 years and has been associated with teams that won four conference and one state championship. He is a two-time 3A East Football Coach of the Year and coached in the Wyoming Shrine Bowl five times, twice as co-head coach. Gary also coached in the 1995 Down Under Bowl, has been a WCA Football Representative, serves on the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Selection Committee, and was inducted into the Hot Springs High School inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2016. He has officiated state football and basketball playoff and championship games and has been the starter at the state indoor and outdoor track meets. In 2007 and 2012 he was the NFOA & WSOA Track Official of the Year, and in 2016 he received the WHSAA Distinguished Service Award – 30 years. His hobbies include golfing and hunting. He has been married to his wife Connie for 47 years and has four children and seven grandchildren.

Brick Cegelski – Cheyenne

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Easy going and personable, Brick Cegelski has coached football and track at McCormick Junior High School and Central High School for nearly 30 years, earning a reputation as a “player’s coach” who develops great relationships with kids. The son of long-time Boston Patriots scout Bobo Cegelski and the grandson of legendary Montana State University Head Basketball Coach John W. “Brick” Breeden, he has enjoyed a successful career as an athlete, teacher, and coach. A 1980 graduate of Central High School, he was an all-state quarterback who played on two state championship football teams and in the 1980 Shrine Bowl. Following graduation, Brick attended Montana State University on a football scholarship before graduating from the University of Wyoming in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Secondary Education and he earned a Master’s Degree in Technology from Lesley College in 1998. Brick began his teaching career in 1989 at McCormick Junior High School, where he has taught mathematics for 28 years. After serving two years as an assistant football coach at Central High School, he became the head coach for the next 18 seasons. During his tenure his teams made the state playoffs 16 times, won two conference and two regional championships, and played for the state championship twice. In 2005, he had the privilege of coaching his son “Little Brick,” who led the Indians to the 4A State Championship. For his efforts, he was selected as the WCA and Super 25 Coach of the Year. A three-time conference Coach of the Year, he coached in the Shrine Bowl five times, serving as the head coach in 2006; and in 2008 he received the WHSAA Distinguished Service Award – 20 years. Brick’s favorite hobbies include hunting and fishing. He has been married to his wife Laura for 30 years and has two children.