Ken Tams honored by ‘Jack boosters


Despite his own accomplishments in the sport, the real reward for wrestling champion Ken Tams has been the time he’s invested in his students.

Mr. Tams will be inducted to the Lumberjack Booster Club’s Hall of Fame at its fundraising banquet Nov. 15.

A 1967 graduate of Payette High School, Mr. Tams started wrestling his freshman year after his driver’s education instructor asked him if he’d ever thought about the sport. He had said no. The sport, however, would soon be a staple in his life.

“I enjoyed the fact that it is a dual-purpose sport,” Mr. Tams said. “It is an individual sport, but then you also contribute to the team scores. So you are trying to win for yourself as well as the team.”

Ken Tams will be inducted into the Lumberjack Booster Club's Hall of Fame Nov. 15. He's coached wrestling since 1973 in St. Maries. His wife, Kathy, is also pictured.

During his high school wrestling career, Mr. Tams was a two-time state champion and lettered all four years in the sport. He also participated in football, track and baseball.

Mr. Tams earned a wrestling scholarship that included three years at Brigham Young University. He placed second in the Western Athletic Conference as a junior and was the conference champion as a senior.

After earning teaching credentials at Boise State University, Mr. Tams took a job at St. Maries High School as assistant wrestling coach in 1973.

“I’ve been coaching some kind of wrestling since then,” he said.

Fours years after he accepted the position as assistant wrestling coach, he was named head coach. Under his tutelage, the Lumberjacks claimed six league titles and a fourth place finish at state. He also coached high school football and girls softball.

In addition to coaching, he taught at the middle and high schools. He served as the athletic director for seven years. He was later hired as the middle school principal and served in that capacity until he retired in 2005.

Mr. Tams was instrumental in starting the North Idaho Wrestling League, which included the St. Maries club. It was a program that introduced youngsters to the sport. He was among local coaches who spent their weekends traveling to tournaments.

“We thought it could be a program where students could get some experience before high school, and there was no middle school wrestling program at the time,” he said. “We thought it would be beneficial. Now we have it where the kids are a lot younger. It just grew.”

In 2008, he was inducted into Idaho Chapter of the National Hall of Fame for his accomplishments and several years of coaching.

Mr. Tams has coached wrestling for more than 40 years. And it’s the students he taught rather than his own accomplishments that have been the biggest thrill.

“I like working with the kids. It’s just fun. At five or six years old they know nothing at all about wrestling and it’s just fun to watch them grow and get better over the course of time,” he said. “Some of them have gone on to wrestle at the middle and high school level and done very well.”

His wife, Kathy, has also been a part of his team. She knows just about as much as wrestling as he does.

“She’s been there filling in tournament brackets on the weekends and helps register kids and has traveled with me,” he said.

Mr. Tams said he is a huge supporter of schools offering athletic programs to students. He said it encourages students to stay in school and gives them an organized activity to participate in.

“Kids like athletics,” he said.  “I believe it helps greatly with the education aspect as well as inspires them to take pride in their school. Athletics is a big part of that.”

Mr. Tams learned in September he was selected for this year’s Hall of Fame honor from the Lumberjack Booster Club.

Dennis Humphrey, with the Lumberjack Booster Club, said Mr. Tams was selected for the time that he has put into the sport locally.

“He’s been in the top running for the honor every year that we’ve done this,” Mr. Humphrey said. “He has coached hundreds of kids and no doubt put in hundreds of hours. He’s just a very good guy and done a lot through the years.”

Mr. Tams said he was surprised and honored to be selected for the award.

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