Vern Tepen has been a familiar face in the Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School community for many years and was heavily involved in the athletic department.
Tepen was the athletic director and a coach at SPPCS for many years before he stepped down from the position last year.
“Being with the kids every day has been the most rewarding part of my time in SPPCS athletics,” he said. “There’s always something new and something different with each group of kids.”
In his time being involved with athletics, Tepen has played a part in winning state tournaments in baseball and softball and being competitive in volleyball and basketball.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said.
Tepen is in his 27th year at SPPCS. He was originally there for eight years, went to Columbia’s school district for six years, and ended up coming back to SPPCS.
Tepen is originally from Batchtown, which is near Alton.
Since he stepped down from the athletic director position and coaching last year, Tepen said he has had a lot more free time.
“I’ve been playing a little golf, reading a lot more and just enjoying the stress-free time,” he said.
He still helps out current athletic director, John Green, from time to time.
“I also have a 12-year-old at home, so I get to spend more time with her,” Tepen said.
One of the greatest parts of Tepen’s coaching career was getting the chance to coach his own children.
“I got to coach them both in basketball, and my daughter was a good softball and volleyball player,” he said. “I’ve also coached my brother-in-law and my three nephews, too.”
Tepen said he enjoys going places around Waterloo and seeing so many friends in the community.
“I can’t go anywhere without someone saying ‘Hi,’” he said with a laugh. “It’s nice to be able to talk to people from the past.”
Regardless of whether community members are affiliated with SPPCS or the public school system, Tepen said everyone gets along and has a great time.
“Every time we play Waterloo, it’s always a really great, competitive situation,” he said. “It’s always worked out well and has been fun for the kids.”
Tepen is still a teacher at SPPCS and teaches sixth grade social studies.
“Coaching is different from teaching, because you have (your students) for just a few hours and you can really mix things up and keep things fresh,” he said. “That competitive situation makes it different than teaching.”
Tepen will be honored this Friday night with a ceremony between basketball games, along with beforehand at an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner at 5 p.m.
He said he is looking forward to seeing familiar faces at the fundraiser and getting to talk to players he hasn’t seen in a while.
“It’ll be a nice evening to reminisce,” he said.
Dinner is $7 for adults, $5 for children under 12 years old and the entire family can eat for $24.