Bemidji High School Athletics Hall of Fame banquet returning on May 9
The five new inductees to the BHS Athletics Hall of Fame are Darrel Bahr, Kayla Hirt, Toby Kvalevog, Ralph “Rocco” Lovering and Don “Pappy” Papreck.
BEMIDJI -- For the first time since 2019, the Bemidji High School Athletics Hall of Fame is going to grow.
BHS is set to induct five new members on Monday, May 9, when it holds its Hall of Fame banquet. This spring’s edition will be the first since 2019, as it’s been paused for the past two years due to the pandemic.
The five new inductees are Darrel Bahr, Kayla Hirt, Toby Kvalevog, Ralph “Rocco” Lovering and Don “Pappy” Papreck.
In addition to the new Hall of Fame members, the school will also name its Lumberjack Male and Female Athletes of the Year, an annual award for the top senior athlete in each class. Letterwinners and other award recipients will be named, as well.
Below are the biographies of each 2022 Hall of Fame inductees.
Darrel was born and raised in Bemidji, graduating from Bemidji High School in 1958. He was a three-sport athlete: track, baseball and wrestling. A member of the inaugural 1956 BHS wrestling squad, he had a career record of 31-1-1. A two-time state qualifier and two-time Region 8 champion (1956 and 1957), Darrel placed third at the 1956 state wrestling tournament. He captained the 1958 team, having his undefeated senior campaign sidelined by an injury. As a sophomore he joined the National Guard, resulting in his enlistment with the Army through 1968. In the service he continued his wrestling career, wrestling two years for the United States Army. In 1969, he returned to Bemidji and began his coaching career. He participated in the men’s fast-pitch softball league as a player and coach for two decades before turning his attention to Bemidji Youth Baseball and curling for another 10-plus years. In addition to coaching, Darrel assisted with the planning and building of the Mark Evenson Memorial Baseball Complex. Darrel is a member of the Bemidji Wrestling Club Hall of Fame and is a lifelong fan of BHS wrestling, watching his son and six grandchildren come through the program.
Kayla Hirt was a standout varsity volleyball and basketball player for Bemidji High School from 2008-10. Kayla was sidelined due to an ACL repair in her senior year in high school, however her athletic career was far from over. In 2010, Kayla signed a basketball scholarship at the University of Minnesota. While participating in high school, Kayla was the basketball MVP in 2009 and 2010, volleyball MVP 2010, a nominee for the Gatorade Player of the Year 2010-11 and in 2011 was runner-up for the prestigious Minnesota Miss Basketball Player of the Year. She is Bemidji’s top female all-time scorer, racking up an impressive total of 1,757 points. From 2011-15, Kayla was a basketball player for the Gophers, where she earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. Kayla graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology of Criminal Justice.
Toby Kvalevog was a three-year letterwinner, all-conference and all-state goalie for the Lumberjacks hockey team from 1990-93. Toby was selected to the Maroon and Gold High School All-Star series. He represented Team Minnesota at the Chicago showcase national high school hockey tournament and team “North” at the Olympic Festival. Toby had the elite honor to represent the United States at the 1994 World Junior hockey tournament in Czechoslovakia. Toby was drafted by the Ottawa Senators and played a record 121 games for the University of North Dakota after high school as a goaltender. Toby was selected for the WCHA All-Rookie team in his first year at UND and was a member of the 1997 NCAA national championship team.
Ralph “Rocco” Lovering
Ralph was a popular student leader, scholar and athlete from the BHS class of 1965. He served three years on the BHS student council, was a BHS homecoming attendant as a sophomore and was the BHS homecoming king as a senior. Additionally, he was elected to the National Honor Society. Ralph earned three letters in football as the team’s outstanding running back. The football team was unbeaten in all 27 games in which Ralph played. He lettered and co-captained the BHS hockey team for two years as a tough defensive player. He earned four baseball letters, served as team co-captain as a senior, and participated in two state baseball tournaments. As a senior, his baseball coach, Chuck Grillo, on a whim, challenged Ralph to race in the District 29 100-yard dash. Incredibly, he won this race, his first official race ever, and later set a BHS 100-yard dash record in the Region 8 finals. At Bemidji State University, Ralph played varsity football and baseball and was baseball co-captain his senior year. After college, Ralph passionately taught industrial technology at Eden Prairie High School for 35 years. He also had an extensive coaching career that included hockey and baseball at the high school level as well as youth hockey, baseball and softball. The positive impact Ralph had in the lives of his students and athletes is immeasurable. He was an inspirational leader who is remembered for his work ethic, selflessness and spirit of perseverance. Ralph’s outstanding integrity of character was what set him apart from the rest, both on and off the field, in all areas of his life.
Don “Pappy” Papreck
Don began his gymnastic career in Illinois at Glenbrook High School. He continued his career in gymnastics in college at Bemidji State University. He qualified and competed in national championships all four years at the collegiate level. In the summer of 1973, Don began his coaching career teaching gymnastics to youngsters. He spent two years coaching the BSU men’s gymnastics team and was able to return to nationals two more times. In 1982, Don took over the Bemidji State University women’s gymnastics team. At that time, there were only six athletes on the team. With Don’s excellent coaching, three of those athletes qualified and competed in the national championships, the only three women to ever represent BSU in a national gymnastic competition. Don coached at BHS from 1998-2014 and was named Coach of the Year in 2013. He was inducted into the BSU Coaches Hall of Fame in 2000. The University of Minnesota inducted Don into their gymnastics Hall of Fame for starting a competitive gymnastics program. Don has been an integral part of creating a culture of excellence for gymnastics at Bemidji High School. His tremendous coaching has produced many top-notch gymnasts at the high school and collegiate levels.