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Niwot High School's inaugural Hall of Fame induction honors our champions

Niwot High School announced its inaugural Hall of Fame class, "honoring a group of five remarkable individuals who have woven themselves into the very fabric of our school and community: Tiny Koehler, Sue Prahl, Debbi and Art Stapp, Terri Ward, and Biff Warren," in a press release.

The Night of Champions Celebration will be held in the Niwot High School auditorium

on Sunday, June 2, at 6:30 p.m. to not only celebrate the school's inaugural Hall of Fame inductees, but also the achievements of current student-athletes, teams, and coaches.

The Hall of Fame was created to recognize and celebrate those who have profoundly influenced Niwot High School. "We want to remember the people that laid the foundation for us," explained Joe Brown, Assistant Principal and Athletic Director, and one of the administrators involved in the selection process. "The Hall of Fame is for anybody that has impacted Niwot High School."

Choosing the inaugural class was no small feat. The selection committee spent hours sifting through information. Once all the nominations were gathered, the committee contacted nominees to ensure they had all the information they needed to make their final decisions.

"All the nominees have made a significant contribution to Niwot High School," Eric Rauschkolb, Niwot High School Principal and another administrator for the Hall of Fame, noted. "It was hard to narrow it down." With 50 years worth of incredible people, the committee had to make some difficult decisions, but Brown said, "This group of people, in their own capacities, have dedicated their life to the high school."

Paul "Tiny" Koehler spent over 40 years as a teacher and a football coach, leading Niwot's football team to its first state championship in 1990. Now retired, his commitment to coaching earned him a place in the Colorado High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007.

Koehler also coached football at the University of Northern Colorado and most recently at Ft. Lewis College. Now, with his selection to the Niwot High School Hall of Fame, Koehler said, "It's a tremendous honor just to be included along with some great people."

Sue Prahl has been a cornerstone of the Niwot community for over 50 years, passionately supporting youth sports and ensuring countless opportunities for students. Prahl was instrumental in helping establish feeder programs through Niwot Youth Sports that led students in the Niwot community to Niwot High School, ensuring the future success of many programs.

Prahl served on the NHS staff for many years, coordinating community school activities and serving as games manager for athletic events, which she continues to do, even in retirement. Prahl said she's "just in it for the kids."

Debbi and Art Stapp have shown unwavering generosity towards the St. Vrain Valley School District and Niwot High School. Their contributions have empowered numerous students, often in ways largely behind the scenes. Art Stapp was one of three people who organized a campaign to build Niwot High's training facility near the football field.

Although Art Stapp passed away last year, his legacy lives on through Debbi and the Stapp family. "It's a real honor to have this happen at this time." remarked Debbi, who also served on the Niwot High School Education Foundation Board of Directors for several years. She has continued the Stapp family's legacy of supporting the St. Vrain Valley School District, and especially Niwot High School. Stapp Interstate Toyota, the Stapp family business, has sponsored the Courier's Arts Student of the Week feature for many years.

Terri Ward, a lifelong Niwot area resident and a 1976 Niwot High School graduate, dedicated herself to girls' athletics. Ward led the NHS girls' basketball program for nearly 30 years and the volleyball program for a decade. She also taught physical education for over two decades at Niwot Elementary and Niwot High School. Her career has included advocating for women's sports across Colorado and at the national level with USA Basketball.

As excited as Ward is to be an inaugural inductee, she's "excited Niwot High School finally has something to recognize all the amazing people in the community." She also earned her place as a 2018 inductee into the Colorado High School Activities Association Hall of Fame, and in 2022, she was inducted into the Colorado Coaches of Girls Sports Hall of Fame.

Bruce "Biff" Warren said he was "very humbled and honored to find out he was selected" to be an inaugural inductee. A dedicated community member since coming to Niwot in 1975, Warren opened his Niwot law office and poured his heart into the community. He has served on the board of many community organizations including the Niwot High School Education Foundation, the Niwot Community Association, the Niwot Business Association, and the Niwot Cultural Arts Association.

Warren spent 25 years as a coach and administrator for Niwot Youth Sports where he worked with others to build 10 permanent ballfields in the area, giving local kids a chance to play in their community. Warren was also one of seven founders of the Left Hand Valley Courier, the only local newspaper in the area, 27 years ago, and continues to serve as Managing Editor. He also served as an assistant softball coach at NHS under his daughter, Randi Willemsen, from 1998 to 2001, and has been an assistant baseball coach at Niwot High School since 2002.

Brown said the inaugural Hall of Fame event not only celebrates the achievements of five remarkable individuals, but also sets a precedent for future recognition of those who contribute to the school's legacy. As the community looks forward to future inductions, the Hall of Fame stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of excellence and service at Niwot High School.

Following the June 2 Night of Champions ceremony, there will be an informal gathering at The Wheel House in downtown Niwot. Everyone is encouraged to attend.

Nominations are accepted on an ongoing basis and will be reviewed annually by a selection committee. If you would like to submit a nomination, please visit www.nhs-cougars.com/hof/.

 

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