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Proposal to add Strannigan's signature to gym floor heard by school board

Jul 18, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Friends and family of former Riverton High School basketball coach and activities director Bill Strannigan want to honor the man's memory with a signature on the basketball court at Wolverine Gym.

The request is at odds with district practice, however.

A dozen people joined Strannigan's widow, Clarice Strannigan, at Tuesday's meeting of the Fremont County School District 25 Board of Trustees to voice support for the idea.

Clarice Strannigan asked that her husband's signature be added to RHS basketball court in the corner near the home bench between the key and the baseline, and in the same spot on the opposite end and side.

Her husband served the school district for more than 50 years, she noted, adding that he did more than coach and organize events.

"Bill lobbied for the idea of three courts, permitting three different activities at the same time," Clarice Strannigan said. "(That design) heavily influenced making Riverton the site for countless statewide events."

Because the district is planning to rebuild the court's floor soon, the memorial would cost little, she added.

Former RHS basketball coach Mike Harris spoke in favor of the signatures.

"There's nobody who's done any more for his school, for this community, than Bill did," said Harris, who played and coached under Strannigan, then succeeded him as head coach at RHS.

Policy vs. practice

Officials did not reject Strannigan's proposal but showed some reluctance.

Superintendent Terry Snyder said the district typically does not name structures after individuals. Trustee Carl Manning, who was been on the school board for nearly 18 years, said the district has not named a building for an individual during his tenure.

Harris argued that the district has named facilities for individuals. He used the James H. Moore Career Center as an example. That facility opened in 1974 and was named in honor of a longtime District 25 superintendent.

The former RHS track and field venue, no longer serving that purpose but still used recreationally, was named Wilford Mower Track about 50 years ago in memory of a teacher killed in an accident.

"We've done it," Harris said. "If it is, in fact, a policy (not to do it), I think policy can be changed."

Snyder said there is not a board policy that prohibits naming a structure after an individual.

"(It's) a position the board has taken," Snyder said. "The practice could be altered, and that will be something for (the board) to consider."

If the district does start naming facilities after people, it could be difficult to decide who is eligible for the honor, Snyder continued.

"Truly Bill is deserving, but where do you stop with a request from an individual 10 years from now, 20 years from now?" he asked.

He pointed out that the district has honored Bill Strannigan several times already. A basketball tournament and a booster club scholarship have been named for him, Snyder said, and Strannigan is in the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame, as well as the Wyoming Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Those honors are noted in exhibits in the gymnasium lobby.

"I think a case could be made Bill is the most honored, decorated employee the district's ever had with what he has now," Snyder said.

In addition, the school board and staff are working on a plan to create an installation to recognize individuals from all fields who contribute significantly to FCSD25, Snyder said. Strannigan could be honored in that setting as well.

Many trustees expressed interest in Clarice Strannigan's idea, but none got behind it wholeheartedly.

"He played a very big role in my coming up," trustee Jody Ray said of the former coach. "Thank you, Clarice, for sharing those things we have to revisit or rehear."

The board decided to consider the idea over the course of the next year before the gymnasium floor is refurbished.

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