YODER – During Crockett Herring’s senior year at Southeast High School, he had one goal – Dale Reed.
In the 1988-89 season, Reed, who played for Little Snake River High School, was considered to be the best basketball player in the state of Wyoming, and Herring wanted the opportunity to play against him.
Because Herring was competitive, and he wanted to compete against the best and be the best.
On one occasion, then Southeast basketball coach Steve Zimmerman remembers Herring telling him, “I don’t care if we win a game, I want to play against Dale Reed just one time.”
Later that season, Herring got his wish.
“He was a young man who I had a lot of respect for in his competitiveness,” Zimmerman said. “He had an outlook on life that, it wasn’t just the competitiveness of the game, it was more competitiveness of being the best he could be.”
During the season, the opportunity to face Reed arose in the 1A state championship game.
Herring and his Cyclone teammates came up short 52-50 for the state title that season, and Reed went on later to play basketball at the University of Iowa and Washington State University.
On Saturday, Herring unexpectedly passed away at his home.
“He went to Southeast schools his entire K-12 education,” Southeast athletic director Tim Williams said. “He was all-state in four sports, which is unheard of anymore. Back before he graduated, you could do four sports. So, he was all-state in football, basketball, wrestling and track.”
The competitiveness of Herring stayed with him throughout the years, even offering assistance to the Southeast basketball program when he wasn’t a coach.
“When I was coaching the first time. This would have been around 2007 or 08, Dick Gulisano was my official assistant coach, but Crockett gave up his free time for almost three seasons, working with a couple young post players that we knew were going to be really good,” Williams said. “He gave of his own time to work with them.”
Herring later worked under Williams as an assistant coach before becoming the varsity coach during the 2016-17 season.
“Coaching with him, Crockett was one of those guys that you never had to worry about,” Williams said. “You always knew he was going to tell you the truth, whether you wanted to hear it or not.”
It was the same case for the kids he thought at Trail Elementary.
“He had high expectations, and he wanted you to meet those every single day,” Williams said. “He set such a great example for the kids. The kids knew he cared for them, and they knew that he truly wanted to see them do their best.”
The last two seasons, the Cyclones reached the semifinal rounds of the state tournament, ultimately finishing fourth during the 2019-20 season and third in the 2020-21 season.
“As a coach, there was a tenaciousness. He had a drive that he had to make sure they were extremely well prepared and extremely physical. That was his nature,” Zimmerman said. “If he had a chance to break your spirit and win the game, he was going to do it, and he was going to do everything he could to do that.”
By the time Herring took over at Southeast, Zimmerman was well into his tenure as head coach at cross-county rival Lingle-Fort Laramie.
“I watched him grow as a coach – from a JV coach when he was working with Tim Williams and as a varsity coach,” Zimmerman said. “He had developed into a tremendous coach.”
Despite the coaching at cross-county schools, their friendship never wavered.
During the season, Herring and Zimmerman spent one or two afternoons a week at Burger King over lunch discussing coaching strategies on common opponents.
“It was like a poker game – which one of us could bluff the other on what we were going to do when we played each other,” Zimmerman said laughing. “The thing was, we knew each other so well, we even knew when we were lying to the other one, trying to gain a little bit of an advantage.”
Herring’s loss will leave a void, but his legacy will live on in the lives of the students and athletes he impacted over the years.
“He cared more about others than he did himself,” Williams said. “The thing that impressed me the most about him was, if you were the lowest kid on the totem pole or the last kid on the end of the bench, he coached you as hard as he would the first kid off the bench, and he expected as much from you. There are a lot of coaches that want to coach the good kids, and there aren’t a lot of coaches who want to coach the kids that aren’t going to see the floor.”
“He exceled so much as a player. He was now doing it as a coach. It was an honor to have a game with him. Neither one of us liked to lose, but when the game was over, we were best friends again,” Zimmerman added. “You cannot put into words what we lost. He was good for people. He was good for those that were around him. He was so good hearted.”