Historical Details

Niobrara County School District Hall of Fame Presents 2023 Class

Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 06/28/2023

The Niobrara County School District inaugural Hall of Fame class of 2023. Front row (left-right) Steve Cockreham, Tami (Tully) Zamborelli and Tommy Thompson. Back row (left-right) Ed Strube’s daughters Debbie (Strube) Ehlers and Devon Strube, and James E. Barrett’s son Rich Barrett. Photo by Kellie Jo Allison.

By Cory Griffith, Contributing Writer

Honorees came from Casper, Cheyenne, Whitney, Nebraska, Monument, Colorado, and Indianapolis for the inaugural Niobrara County School District Hall of Fame banquet. The prestigious event opened Alumni weekend Thursday evening and the Niobrara Country Club, with longtime district teacher and coach Jim Craig emcee for the evening. The" Stat Rat" didn't disappoint with his humor, historical connections and ability to relate to everyone in the room.

James E. Barrett was represented by his son Rich Barrett of Cheyenne and became the first ever inductee from Board Member Jason Wasserburger.

"This has been a priceless night, just a wonderful gathering of honorees with unprecedented accomplishments in a broad range of disciplines," said Barrett. "It speaks volumes about the fact that Lusk and Niobrara County is one of a kind, and has always produced remarkable people for a community this size."

Beecher "Ed" Strube's daughters came from Casper for his induction into the NCSD HOF. Board member Cory Griffith welcomed Devon Strube and Debbie Ehlers to accept the award for their father.

"Dad would be so honored by this award, he loved Lusk, he loved people and it would have meant the world to him to be recognized with the people here tonight," said Devon.

"He would have loved this, and been like Mr. Thompson....just story after story, but what a wonderful evening," added Debbie.

The farthest miles traveled award went to Steve Cockreham from Indianapolis, and was introduced by Board Member Kathy Coon. "It was a very uplifting and a great evening, a lot of reminiscing and thinking of other people, and what we went through together," said Cockreham. "A lot of it was remembering the fun we had back here at NCHS and growing up in Lusk."

Board Member Ryan Rapp took the podium to introduce Tommy Thompson from Whitney, Neb. Nearly a dozen family members joined his induction before traveling to his granddaughter's wedding on Saturday.

"It was a fabulous evening, I'm so glad I was invited to come. I enjoyed hearing everyone's story and am thankful to all of you for this event," said Thompson.

Monument's Tami (Tully) Zamborelli became the first female inducted into the NCSD HOF and was brought to the podium by Board Member Deb Murray.

"What a tremendous evening and nice way to come back and see old  friends, coaches, teammates, and be honored with this group tonight," said Zamborelli. "I'm very blessed and happy to be here." Full biographies of the inductees will run in a series during the next five weeks.

The Niobrara County School District Hall of Fame Board would like to thank all the inductees and their families for being here tonight. You've helped make a dream come true as the community celebrates you tonight. Applications are open for next year's class and can be found at growingluskleaders.org.

A special thanks to Allbright's True Value for sponsoring the event. The Angry Irishman for a delicious spread of food and the NCHS FBLA for serving and cleaning up afterward.

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The Lusk Herald, July 5, 2023

Jim Barrett grew up in Lusk, Wyoming, the son of Frank and Alice Barrett. Frank Barrett served Niobrara County as county attorney and as a state senator before becoming the only Wyoming citizen to serve as Congressman, Governor, and U.S. Senator.

Jim graduated from Lusk High School in 1940. While in high school he became ill and it was found he had a  heart murmur. He was advised not to play football or basketball. Disappointed, he turned his attention to sports writing. James was an early writer for The Lusk Herald, submitting LHS news and sports. In the initial years they were co-authored with classmates, but by his junior years he was writing the columns alone and acquired a creative title---"Grin and Barrett"---and his last story at the end of his senior year was entitled "Nothing New". The excellent tradition of local sports coverage begins with Jim Barrett who stuck at the task for four years. James was involved in student council, was the sophomore Class President, active in band, annual staff, L Club, basketball, football, spotlight staff and also wrote articles for the Denver Post while in high school.

Rich Barrett shares that during hgh school Jim created a football program for sixth grade boys. He visited the local businesses to raise money for uniforms and equipment (One particular merchant declined to contribute unless Jim pledged to have his son play quarterback). The program was a success but did not continue after Jim's high school years. 

After graduation from LHS, Jim was the right age for World War II. He landed on Normandy Beach on D-Day plus two. He was assigned to the Headquarters Detachment of the !st Amy commanded by General Bradley and the 3rd Army commanded by General Patton.

After the war, Jim attended St. Catherine's College in Oxford, England, Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and the University of Wyoming where he received his law degree in 1949.

He then began the practice of law in Lusk in the firm name of Barrett & Barrett for 18 years. He served as Niobrara County and Prosecuting Attorney, Town attorney for Lusk and Manville, and Niobrara School District Attorney.

In 1967, Governor Hathaway appointed Jim the Attorney General so the family moved to Cheyenne to serve this term. In December of 1969 while on a flight in the state owned plane, the pilot died of a brain hemorrhage. Jim, with no pilot experience and no radio or guidance, was able to crash land the plane in a field near Rawlins but able to walk away from the plane, Many pilots comments he had a one in a million chance of survival.

In 1971, President Nixon appointed Jim and he was confirmed by the United States Senate to serve in Denver as a judge on the United States Tenth Circuit Court which he served on until his death. In 1990 he became the Senior Judge on the circuit court. while serving he participated in the disposition of 9000 cases and more than 300 opinions. Judge Brorby described Barrett as one of the most productive judges on the court and the "finest human beings I've known."

In addition to his regular duties, in 1979, U.S. Chief Justice Burger appointed Jim to serve as one of three judges on the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of review. The court met in a special steel vault and sat on cases involving foreign espionage.

Jim was honored as a Distinguished Alumni of University of Wyoming (1973) and was inducted as an honorary member of UW  College of Law (1973) and was inducted as an honorary member of UW College of Law (1994). He received the Larry L. Lehman Award for Judicial Excellence from the Wyoming Supreme Court in 2009. Jim was an avid supporter of University of Wyoming and University of Notre Dame basketball and football teams, and a member of the Cowboy Joe Club, and Cheyenne Quarterback Club. Jim was an exceptional golfer who learned his skills on the sand greens of Niobrara County Country Club.

Jim was married to Carmel Ann Barrett for 61 years. They were the parents of son Richard (Rosemary) Barrett of Cheyenne , daughter Ann (John) Sandahl of Carlsbad, Ca. and son John Barrett of Cheyenne.

Rich Barrett stated, "My late father, Judge Barrett, who would have turned 101 on April 8, would be delighted with his induction into the inaugural class of the Niobrara County School District Hall of Fame. Lusk and Niobrara County held a special place in his heart throughout his life."

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The Lusk Herald, July 26, 2023

The Lusk Herald will be running the biographies of the Class of 2023 NCHS Hall of fame Inductees as a summer series. Watch for one biography each week.

Beecher "Ed" Strube was born in Hat Creek, Wyoming and became a multi-sport star, including softball, while attending Lusk High School and graduating in 1951-one of the last LHS classes. He was also involved in band and choir, Latin Club, the senior class play, student council and was Homecoming Royalty. A quote from the 1951 yearbook noted Ed was "A man of unbounded stomach."

Ed went on to the University of Wyoming as a member of the football team briefly before serving in the United States Army during the Korean War, and became a decorated Veteran. During his freshman year (1951), the Wyoming B team posted a 2-2 record. He did kick one extra point in a blow-out 65-0 win over Denver University and according to his daughter, was quite proud of winning the Ugly Man of Campus Award in 1952.

While in the Army, he received a Korean Service Medal , a United Nations Service Medal and a National Defense Service Medal. While in Korea for Christmas, Ed asked form and received many generous donations from the Lusk and Lance Creek communities. He played Santa Claus and distributed gifts to the Korean children.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and Master of Science in Botany and Zoology, Ed began his teaching career in 1957 and Dean Morgan Junior High. He moved to Kelly Walsh High School in 1968, and was the Trojans' head football coach from 1968-70. Ed was also Kelly Walsh's head gold coach and a well-respected official throughout Wyoming during a career that ended with his retirement in 1992. 

In 1963 he developed a Summer Field Science Course using the great outdoors as his classroom. In 1983 he was recognized by the National Science Teaching Association for his efforts.

Ed was a member of the Casper Mountain Lions Club for over 50 years, and is known as the founder of the Casper Mountain Lions Braille Trail. He served in many leadership roles and was honored when the road leading north to Elkhorn Creek off Casper Mountain Road was named "Strube Loop" in the early 1980's. In 1997, Ed received the Knights of the Blind Award presented by the Lions of Wyoming Foundation for his outstanding work with the Braille Trail.

During his stint as the Trojans football coach, he established the Beecher Strube Award to honor a senior athlete who demonstrated leadership, positive attitude, dedication and citizenship, both on and off the gridiron. In 2016, his grandson, Joel Strube received the Beecher E. Strube Award.

He also received the Kathleen Henry Award for outstanding teaching and community work in 1979, and was presented the Outstanding District Biology Award in 1982. Ed received the Golf Coach of the Year Award for the Eastern conference in 1987, and in 1989 he received the State of Wyoming Biology Teacher of the Year Award.

In 1990, Ed was inducted into the Wyoming Officials Hall of Fame. In 2017 he was inducted into the Wyoming Lions Hall of Fame, and now in 2023, he is enshrined in the Niobrara County School District Hall of Fame.

Ed's daughters Devon Strube, Debbie Ehlers (Guy) and son Beecher Jay Strube (Cathy), and sister Barb Younts (Bob) will accept this award for Beecher "Ed" Strube." 



The Lusk Herald, August 2, 2023

A key player on Lusk’s only perfect season in basketball history and still holder of 18 football school records, Steve was the guy whose pictures, jerseys and stats hung in the NCHS lobby that generations of future Tigers admired. Among them still standing are a dozen passing records, total offensive yards, and defensive interceptions in a career, season and game. The leader of some of the greatest teams in school history, he was a two-time All State (67, 68) player in leading NCHS to a 16-2-1 record and back to back five finishes in the AP big school rankings.

As a basketball player, he still sits in fourth place on the career scoring list (1258 before the three point line), fourth in field goals made (491). Third in attempts (1123) and his .436 field goal percent is still among the best ever. He holds the school record for free throws made (276), is fifth in career rebounds (608), and Associated Press All State in 1967, 68, and 69. Steve was also involved in student council, band and choir, the junior class play, National Honor Society, L-Club and several other activities at NCHS. He ran on the track team, was a member of Future Teachers of America, and Spanish Club as well.

Following a stellar career in the red and white, Steve received offers for football and basketball from all across the country. He chose football at the University of Wyoming, and after playing on the freshman squad in 1969, was redshirted in 1970 and used sparingly in 1971. Steve then held the starting quarterback job for the next two years and set seven individual records. Even though Wyoming posted another 4-7 record, Steve often shined. Steve’s final mark as a starting QB was 8-13. He set nine individual records while in Laramie; Most plays: 655; Most yards total offense:3427 yds; Most yards passing per attempt, game: 12.9 yds; Most yards passing per completion, season: 18.5 yds: *Most yards passing per completion, career17.7; Total yardage gained, career: 3435 yds; Total yardage per game: 132.1, **Most rushes per game---37 vs. AZ ST; Longest pass play vs CSU 91 yards—Cockreham to Scott Freeman.

*Still holds record today. **Shares record with Ryan Cristoperson.

After graduating in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science in Range Management, he followed that up with a PhD. In Agronomy, specializing in Weed Science. Steve began working for Eli Lily and early jobs in Laramie, Fort Collins and Memphis and eventually Indianapolis—where he has resided most of his life.

Steve then had the opportunity to help start a company located in Indianapolis specializing in the greenhouse, golf course, and aquatic markets. His position was Vice President of Research and Regulatory Affairs and he held that position for 15 years (1994-2009). The company grew from 5 employees to over 50 during that period. Steve retired in October 2009 to be able to spend time with his family as during those working years there were a lot of night away from home. The major component of the business was aquatics and it took them to many areas of the US and world that needed solutions in management of weed problems in water. They were a science-based company that used technology to drive patents to differentiate from out customers. He is a Co-Inventor of 4 patents:

Method and Compositions of Controlling Algae----Patent # 20130102638

Methods and Compositions for Control of Aquatic Weeds Using Herbicidal Combinations with Fluridone—Patent #20090298691

Supported Fluridone Combinations and Methods---Patent # 6686317

Supported Fluridone Compositions and Methods---Patent #20030045429

Steve’s wife is Janis, who is retired form Eli Lily. Their daughter and son-in-law Megan and Zak Crickmore. Granddaughters Madison Cockreham and Sophie Crickmore and Grandson Riley Crickmore.



NCHS Class of 1964

The Lusk Herald, September 13, 2023

While attending NCHS, Tom was a three-time state heavyweight champion (62, 63, 64) when AA and A schools were in the same category at the state tournament. During his high school career he posted a 102-4 record and before the three-peat he finished third as a freshman at state. He was also a two-time All-State football player (62, 63) on some of the best teams in school history.

Laramie Boomerang sports writer, Phil White said of Tommy, "You don't meet a person like Thompson every day. He's a better "n" average student, a fantastic athlete and a great guy." Besides being a standout in wrestling, Tommy was also involved in football and track. He played fullback defensive linebacker for the Tigers. During his time at NCHS, the team compiled a record of 32-3-1 and these dominant teams basically scored at will . In track, he won 3 letters as well. Other activities included the senior class play, was a constant member on the honor roll, student council, Junior Class President, Student of the Month and L Club. He was one of the most successful and decorated athletes in school history. Upon graduation he had around twenty-five scholarship waiting before his college career began at the University of Oklahoma.

While at OU, Tommy make {sic} starting lineup on the freshman football team. He was elected as one of the tri-captains. After one semester, he decided to move closer to home so settled into Laramie.

After transferring and sitting out a year for doing so, the Cowboy foot ball team went into the season full of optimism, with Tommy Slated #2 on the depth chart at outside linebacker, Number one was injured in the opener and pronounced done for the season. Tommy was moved up to the starting spot for the next game--but then was relegated to the #2 spot  on the depth chart for the rest of the season beginning with game #3. He made his presence felt quickly whenever he was in the game. It was a stellar year as Wyoming went 9-1 and finished #15 in the national poll. Tommy was on the traveling ream to the Sun Bowl in El Paso, TX in which the Pokes defeated Florida State 28-20.

On the wrestling mat Tom made his impact felt as well. He was one of the leading sophomore wrestlers in the collegiate realm. Wrestling season began in early December and the month must've been a difficult one for Thompson as he juggled football and wrestling practices around semester final testing. Tommy finished the month at 2-0-2 as the Poke's heavyweight and jointed the football team for their successful trip to the Sun Bowl. With the New Year, Tommy put in a successful month of January with 7-0 mark with 3 pins. Tommy lost his first match in mid-February, but ended the dual season in early March with an overall record of 18-2-2, leading the team with 7 pins. Tommy finished 3rd in the WAS championships--the WAC champion was Curly Culp of KC Chiefs' fame--and became one of five Pokes eligible for the NCAA championships in Kent, Ohio. There, after a first-round bye, Tommy lost to the #1 seed from Michigan. (Culp ended up as heavyweight champ, a full 40 pounds heavier that the weight Thompson wrestled.)

During his junior year (1967068) Tommy started as the #1 middle guard on defense, known as a nose guard nowadays. Hard luck would follow Tommy this season as he cracked a bone in the second game of the year versus Air Force. He was done for the season, not only in football but in wrestling as well while he healed. Tommy's athletic career ended with that injury. While at UW, the football team (won) 2 WAC Conference Titles and played in the Sun Bowl and the Sugar Bowl, The Cowboys were ranked 5th in the nation.

Tommy returned to the family ranch north of Lusk to fulfill a lifelong dream. After 10 years, he and wife Dixie bought property in Whitney, Neb. where they raised their sons Tucker, Thorpe and Taylor. Tom was involved with the Whitney Water District for over 30 years, while serving 20 as President. Most of that time his wife Dixie served as the Secretary/Treasurer too. He also served on the Whitney School Board while his sons attended school there. Tom and Dixie would like to close with these thoughts. "We both made a lot of friends in Wyoming, both in Lusk and at the University and have so enjoyed reunions and visits. As we look back over the past wonderful years, we are so thankful for all the memories, friends and life lessons. Today we are so blessed and thankful to have a really great family with three sons and their families, that give us opportunities to start each day with love and prayers and smiles."



The Lusk Herald, October 4, 2023

By the time Tami got to high school, Title IX was well-entrenched across the sports landscape in America. During a time when the lady Tigers were on the rise, Tami became the standard-bearer for classroom and athletics excellence.

Tami was probably the most dominant player on very successful NCHS volleyball and basketball teams in the early 1990’s. A magician with the basketball in her hands, an accurate shooter from the outside, and dominating as she drove to the basket. Teams had to devise defenses to address her skills, but usually to no avail.

Her honors at NCHS include Class of 1991 Salutatorian, 11 varsity letters, All State Basketball (90, 91), volleyball (1990) and track (1988). She was the recipient in 1991 of the USA Today Wyoming girls’ basketball player of the year. She was also SEWAC basketball player of the year (90, 91), the starting point guard on undefeated state basketball team championships in 1990 and 91. As a freshman in 1988, Tami was the 2A state champion in the 3200-meter run. Other activities include student council, band a choir, National Honor Society, FBLA, VFW Girl’s State and 1990 Homecoming Queen.

At the end of the most recent Lady Tiger basketball season, Tami still holds to school record for assists (376), is second in total points (1334), field goals made (502) and free throws made (298). Her 15.88 career points per game is third, and .691 free throw percent is fourth in school history.

After graduation, Tami headed to Kearney Nebraska to play basketball and get her degree. Here, she was a four-year starter at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. In 1996, she was named the female student-athlete if the year. While at Kearney, Tami ended up second in all time assists, top 15 in scoring, and was a member of the school’s first women’s team to appear in NCAA Division II post season tournament play. Tami graduated Cum Laude with Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.

At the completion of her time in Kearney, Tami relocated in the Colorado Springs/Monument, Colorado area. Her first job out of college was working at UCCS in the athletic administration department. This also allowed her to work on her graduate degree. She completed her Masters of Business Administration in 2001.

Tami currently has been working in commercial banking area for the past twenty plus years. Many of those years have been in leadership positions. Her current position if Manager of Corporate Lending at Ent Credit Union, one of Colorado’s largest financial institutions. In 2006, she got her diploma from the Graduate School of Banking Colorado. Other contributions Tami was involved with in her community include being a member of the InterQuest Rotary Club (2004)-2016), and was the president 2013-2016). This foundation awards scholarships to outstanding scholar-athletes from high schools throughout the Pike’s Peak Region. She served as the President in 2010.

Since 2021, Tami is a board member for GRECCIO Housing. GRECCIO is a community housing development organization in Colorado Springs that provides stable, safe and affordable housing and offers resources for residents to achieve stability and promises solutions to the affordable housing needs of the community.

When Tami isn’t working, she enjoys hiking and trail running with the family dog Libbey. She plays a competitive game of golf and likes fishing with her husband Stephen. They’ve spent many hours watching their two children Andrew and Lucy compete in sports. She enjoys cooking, reading and all things Denver Broncos and Denver Nuggets. She is a parishioner at St. Pete Catholic Church in Monument, CO.

Images & Attachments

The Niobrara County School District inaugural Hall of Fame class of 2023. Front row (left-right) Steve Cockreham, Tami (Tully) Zamborelli and Tommy Thompson. Back row (left-right) Ed Strube’s daughters Debbie (Strube) Ehlers and Devon Strube, and James E. Barrett’s son Rich Barrett. Photo by Kellie Jo Allison.

Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Strube, Beecher (07/13/1933 - 12/16/2020) View Record
Obituary Barrett, James (04/08/1922 - 11/07/2011) View Record