Longmont: Wall of Fame a stroll through school history

Matthew Jonas / Longmont Times-Call
Longmont boys basketball coach Jeff Kloster walks along the school’s extensive Wall of Fame

LONGMONT — Each time basketball coach Jeff Kloster walks from the Longmont High School gym entrance to the locker room, he passes a faded photograph of himself as an all-conference player in 1975.

Across the hall from Kloster’s vintage player photo is a smiling more modern mug shot from when he was named Colorado High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2001, nearly 30 years later. These photos, and thousands like them, are proudly displayed on Longmont High School’s historic masterpiece — the Wall of Fame.

The Wall of Fame is no mausoleum of long-since forgotten athletes. It is Longmont High School’s most hallowed commemoration of individual and collective athletic excellence. And the treasured memories and nostalgic remembrance it draws out of alumni like Kloster are what the Trojans’ Wall of Fame is all about.

“It’s so cool just to look at the way they were back then and the way they were able to do so many great things,” Kloster said. “It tells you the history of this school all the way back to the early 1900s and we didn’t know that tradition until this wall was created. You hear sons and fathers talk about it and they want to keep that legacy going as far as their individual families making it up onto the wall.”

Kloster’s son Cade Kloster (2011 all-state basketball and Northern League Player of the Year) and daughter Kelle Kloster (2011, 2012, 2013 all-conference tennis) have since joined him on the Wall of Fame. Bob Betz, Kloster’s coach during his playing years for the Trojans, is also on the wall as an all-conference player in 1950 and four-time conference champion coach in the 1970s.

Some families like Wilbert Peppler (1939 all-conference track), Kent Peppler (1997 all-conference cross country) and Ashley Peppler (2006 all-conference track), can trace their lineage back three generations on the Wall of Fame. Other members, like Greg Biekert (1986 all-state football), who played 11 years in the NFL and recovered the Tom Brady “Tuck Rule Game” fumble in the 2001 AFC Divisional Game, are one of a kind.

Younger likenesses of current Trojans wrestling coach Matt Engelking and assistant football coach Eric Coyle, as well as current baseball coach Tom Fobes, who was all-conference as a player in 1981 and was later named 2013 Northern Conference Coach of the Year, are on the wall.

The daily face-to-face with the black-and-white accolades from generations past gives each new class of Trojans athletes something to strive for.

“The students and the fans that come to the games notice it and talk about it quite a bit,” Fobes said. “When they first put it up there I would always stop and look at the really old ones. Those ones from way back when, they’re pretty interesting historically. You see names and you wonder if it’s the same family that you went to school with 50 years later. Now it’s fun to stop and look and the new kids that are going up there.”

Trojans parent Randy Horning, whose son Cody Horning (2001, 2002 all-conference basketball) is on the wall, began erecting the Wall of Fame in 2001 and documented Longmont High School’s rich individual and team-based athletic tradition back to its second year in 1902. Since then, the Trojans booster club has continued to immortalize the best from each new generation of Trojans athletes.

“The Wall of Fame was my favorite thing to do,” said Mary Calhoun, former booster club president and member from 2003 to 2012. “When I look at it, I’m just so proud because they were all good athletes and the majority of them were good students. They had to be. They’re the cream of the crop.”

Other Wall of Fame members have gone on to be local heroes in the community. Kent Peppler is the president of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and Tom Dueber owns Canyon Personal Training and Fitness in Longmont.

A shimmering trophy case in the entrance to the main gym boasts a rare prize that is over 100 years old and is one of the last of its kind. The Trojans’ 1908 football national championship remains the Wall of Fame’s crown jewel.

Other notable Wall of Fame members include former Olympic diver Kimiko Hirai Soldati, ESPN analyst Ed Werder and Major League Baseball pitcher David Pauley.

Despite its star-studded membership, Kloster still believes the Wall of Fame’s greatest value lies in the personal impact it has had on the Longmont High School students and alumni through the years.

“I’ll never forget this one elderly man who now lives in Grand Junction. He heard about the Wall of Fame a couple years ago and he made the drive with his daughter all the way over here so they could look for his picture from back in the 1930s,” Kloster said. “When we found it, he pointed and said, ‘There I am.’ Then the tears started coming down. That right there was worth all the hours our school has put into it.”

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