HOT SPRINGS – ‘Bison Pride’ was in its full blue-and-white display this past weekend as the inaugural banquet and induction ceremony was held for the Hot Springs Bison Athletics Hall of Fame.
A total of six individuals, along with the entire 1974 Hot Springs Bison State Champion football team, were honored during halftime of the homecoming football game last Friday night, Oct. 7, and also at a banquet held downtown at the Red Rock River Resort on Saturday, Oct. 8.
Individual athletes inducted into the newly formed Hall of Fame included: Chet Bruce (posthumously), the current state record holder in the 220-yard dash (21.2 seconds) set in 1926; Gerald Collogan, a former school-record holder and the 1969 state champion in the two-mile; Quinten Hofer, the school-record holder in the shot put (61-6) set in 1978 and a former professional football player with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers; and Paul Oberpriller, a 1977 state champion in track as well as a former football school-record holder for points and touchdowns in a season and also a two-time All-State running back.
Also being inducted were a pair of coaches/teachers/administrators, including former Activity Directors Dave Scott (posthumously) and Jim Tays, whom was also honored during the football game on Friday night when the school renamed the Activity Center the Tays Auditorium. Scott began working at HSHS from 1971 until his death from cancer in 2005, while Tays was at HSHS from 1960 until his retirement in 1997.
The induction ceremony itself on Saturday night featured former Hot Spring teacher and coach Gerry Haupt, now from the Eureka area of northeastern South Dakota, as the emcee. Each inductee selected someone to personally introduce them before they came to the podium to accept their award.
It was during these introductions where some of the more emotional moments of the night were witnessed. For example, when current Hot Springs High School Principal Mary (Schrader) Weiss (Class of 1982) posthumously introduced her former coach and mentor Dave Scott with a slide show of images of when he coached her and eventually worked under her as A.D. His Hall of Fame award was then accepted by his daughter Marianne (Scott) Drobny, who said her dad took his “passion for running and turned it into a mission,” and how he was always a “kid” at heart in all that he did.
Dee Dee Tays Johnson spoke of her father Jim Tays, before he came to the podium to accept his award. Dee Dee said, since she was not an athlete herself, she only knew him as a father and then described some special and personal memories of her dad while growing up. She also added a number of humorous stories that some of his former athletes had shared with her, which generated several roars of laughter from the audience.
She however shared another perspective from fellow Hall of Fame inductee Quinten Hofer, who was one of Coach Tays’ athletes during the late 70s. Dee Dee said Hofer told her, “I didn’t think of your dad as funny. I always thought of him as calm and reassuring.” Hofer, who was born without fingers on his right hand, earlier in the evening described how Tays had helped teach him how to pitch and bat with only one hand.
Dee Dee also said her dad Jim had told her recently that the activities surrounding the Hall of Fame ceremony had caused “a lot of memories to come back. Thankfully,” he said, “they are all good memories.”
Quinten Hofer was introduced by his father Leroy Hofer, who recalled how, on Nov. 16, 1960, he got a phone call while at work from his wife’s doctor who said she had just given birth to a healthy baby boy.
“BUT,” Leroy said the doctor told him. “He has no fingers on his right hand.”
“Now, I’ll let Quinten tell the rest of the story,” Leroy concluded and then turned the mic over to his son.
Quinten Hofer said growing up without a right hand presented a lot of challenges for him. He learned early on, that if he wanted to be accepted by others, he would need to learn how to do the same things as others, despite not having all of the same tools that others had.
Whether it was learning to play the trumpet instead of the saxophone in band, or adapting new techniques in his approach to hitting a baseball or figuring out a way to catch and throw a baseball with the same hand, Hofer said he overcame all of those struggles – and many, many others – thanks to his family, friends and coaches he had throughout his life in Hot Springs.
Jake Oberpriller, a 2014 graduate of HSHS, introduced his father Paul, and said he recalled having to learn about his dad’s athletic achievement through others, because he would rarely ever talk about himself in that way. Jake said he remembered being around 7 or 8-years-old and finding an old scrapbook which his grandmother had created. Inside was a colorful, national sports magazine which said his dad Paul was one of the top-100 high school running backs in the nation, despite being just 5-foot, 7-inches and 150 pounds.
He said he recalled being just awestruck by this fact, and then said, “Wow, they must have really been slow back then,” which brought loud laughs from the audience.
Other speeches during the induction ceremony featured Kurt Haunreiter introducing posthumously his grandfather Chet Bruce, and Bill Marks introducing his friend and teammate Gerald Collogan. When Collogan took to the podium, he shared with the audience several interesting facts about Hot Springs High School history, including how the football field’s namesake Harry Woodward had once single-handedly won his high school the team state championship.
The 1974 Football Team was introduced by team members Preston Hofer and Rick Wass, along with then-head coach Larry Ireland and assistant coach Gary Glenn. Preston Hofer, who was the starting center on the team, had with him a framed poster of the team’s schedule from 1974, which also included his own handwritten tally of the scores from each game. He then had each member of the team in attendance come to the podium and introduce themselves.
One of the Hall of Fame’s originators is Carlos Cornay, who currently lives in Sioux Falls but was a standout athlete at Hot Springs High School as a member of the Class of 1977. He was also the sophomore quarterback on the aforementioned 1974 state championship football team.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the community support,” Cornay said following this weekend’s banquet. “We had many teammates come in from distances for this event. Everyone from the presenters to inductees commented how the people of Hot Springs always supported them and all were appreciative of their past teachers, teammates and coaches.”
Cornay is one of 11 members of the Hall of Fame, whom all had a hand in its creation, selection process and banquet ceremony. Others include Richard Anderson (Class of 1977), Sheryl Brost (retired teacher of 37 years), Joyce Farrell (Class of 1977), Jef Field (member of Class of 1978), Quinten Hofer (Class of 1978), Ben Kramer (current HSHS football head coach), Kim Landers (Class of 1978), Stan Larive (Class of 1977), Brett Nachtigall (Class of 1990) and Brian Thies (teacher/coach for 37 years).
“It started as a dream,” added Cornay. “Like, ‘what could we do for our high school?’ A few people were called and after a week or so we were thinking of people to help. We eventually came up 11 committee members, then we drew up by- laws and it really picked up steam.”
The date of the banquet was set to take place during homecoming, Cornay said, with hopes of getting more people to come “home.” After nominations were sought from the public as a whole earlier this spring, the committee voted on those nominations and the top vote-getters became the inaugural class.
“During the ceremony I kept thinking to myself, ‘we chose the right people.’ A first, top-shelf group that the school and community could be proud of,” Cornay said.
“Our main goal is to recognize top performers, ones who are good citizens and give back to our school,” Cornay added. “I thank the 11 members for their involvement, for it takes more than one person to pull this off. We have a great committee team that were always willing to offer suggestions and carry out assignments.”
Cornay added that Julie and Joe Pekron, owners of the Red Rock River Resort, did a fabulous job in their preparation, presentation and hospitality in being hosts of the banquet. “They and their family did an exceptional job. Many people complemented how nice Red Rock River Resort’s convention room was.”
In the coming months, the Hall of Fame Committee will be working with the school to identify a location on campus where the inductees into the Hall can be recognized with individualized plaques. The location will need to have space for ongoing expansion, as the hope is to continue to induct new members every year during homecoming weekend.