Wright coach Larry Yeradi, center, poses with players Ryan Haefele, left, and Holden Fauber at Saturday's National Football Foundation Wyoming Chapter banquet in Laramie. Photo courtesy of Ernie Over.
For the first time in its 17-year history, the Wyoming Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame could not choose just one overall scholar-athlete winner.
So, on Saturday, the Wyoming Chapter announced its two scholar-athlete winners for this year.
However, the group can still say it has never chosen winners from two separate schools.
Ryan Haefele and Holden Fauber, both of Wright, were named the chapter’s two scholar-athlete scholarship award winners at Saturday’s banquet at the Hilton Garden Inn in Laramie.
“As a coach, it’s just so much easier to do your job when you have kids who you tell them once and they do it,” Wright coach Larry Yeradi said after the banquet. ” … I was just fortunate to be there whey they came through the school.”
A total of $22,200 in scholarship money was awarded to 12 high school scholar-athlete finalists and two University of Wyoming winners. Each finalist was awarded a $1,200 scholarship, while Haefele and Fauber each earned an additional $1,000 scholarship for being named the chapter’s top scholar-athletes in the state.
In Saturday’s keynote address, National Football Foundation CEO Matthew Sign extolled the virtues of the game of football and noted the NFF’s national reach — 121 chapters, 47 states and $1.3 million in scholarship money.
Sign was attending his first state chapter banquet of the year.
“It doesn’t get any better than celebrating football in March,” he told the crowd.
UW offensive line coach Pete Kaligis also spoke on Saturday, emphasizing football as a metaphor for other life lessons. He also praised the crowd of more than 300 for helping the scholar-athletes reach their goals.
“This is what Wyoming’s all about,” he said. ” … The family atmosphere, the love, that’s what this is all about.”
Six other special awards were given on Saturday (see list below). Of the special award winners, it was Clyde and Joan Cundall of Glendo who brought the crowd to its feet. Married for 73 years and devoted fans of football, Joan Cundall said the experience of traveling roads and watching games together over a 62-year span was worth it.
“If we could do it all over again, we certainly would,” Joan Cundall told the crowd. “We’ve enjoyed the ride.”
Saturday’s award winners included the following:
SPECIAL AWARD WINNERS
Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football: Frank Gambino, Casper.
Greatest UW Football Fans: Paul Rechard, Laramie, and Doug Campbell, Saratoga.
Greatest High School Football Fans: Rita Moore, Evanston, and Clyde and Joan Cundall, Douglas.
Ox Zellner Football Official Career Achievement: John Bard, Laramie.
Football Coach Career Achievement: Jim Wiseman, Torrington (posthumous).
Keith & Joyce Bloom Scholar-Athlete Courage Award: Jacob Hepp, Buffalo, and Derek Bacon, Pine Bluffs.
President’s Chapter Award: Wendy Sweeny, Worland.
University of Wyoming: Chris Prosinski and Dax Crum.
High school: Sean Rietveld, Snake River; Shawn Straub, Kaycee; Jessee Wilson, Rocky Mountain; Beau Petersen, Cokeville; Holden Fauber, Wright; Ryan Haefele, Wright; Trent Boner, Douglas; Hayden Barker, Douglas; Mitch Espeland, Douglas; Lucas Rowley, Natrona County; Dawson Osborn, Sheridan; Jim Shellenberger, Natrona County.
National Football Foundation Wyoming Chapter scholar-athlete finalists and courage award winners pose for a group picture after Saturday's banquet in Laramie. Finalists include, bottom row, from left, Dawson Osborn, Sheridan; Jim Shellenberger, Natrona; Lucas Rowley, Natrona; Holden Fauber, Wright; Ryan Haefele, Wright; Hayden Barker, Douglas; Trent Boner, Douglas; top row, from left, Chris Prosinski, University of Wyoming; Shawn Straub, Kaycee; Jacob Hepp, Buffalo; Sean Rietveld, Snake River; Derek Bacon, Pine Bluffs; Beau Petersen, Cokeville; Jessee Wilson, Rocky Mountain; and Dax Crum, University of Wyoming. Not pictured is Mitch Espeland, Douglas. Photo courtesy Ernie Over.