LHS Athletic Hall of Fame - Bruce Morrison

David Peck

A multifaceted school and community servant

The Lovell High School Athletic Hall of Fame includes three categories for nominations: athlete, coach and service. In the case of 2022 hall of fame inductee Bruce Morrison, he checks all three boxes.

As an athlete in the late 1960s and into 1970, his LHS graduation year, Morrison was a four-sport athlete competing in football, basketball, track and field and baseball. He later coached football, basketball and baseball at multiple levels, including as a boys and then girls assistant coach at LHS for eight years.

He also refereed for 40 years, handling both football and basketball at all levels.

His community service is legendary and includes 26 years on the town council including 16 years as mayor, co-chairing the Mustang Days Committee for around 20 years with wife Linda, 34 years on the Lovell Volunteer Fire Dept., the Foster Gulch golf board, the chamber of commerce board of directors, the North Big Horn Hospital District board and numerous church callings.

He was even a member of the Mustang Band during high school, then called the Rose City Philharmonica, as a trombonist.

You might call him Mr. Lovell.

The son of Francis and Cleo Morrison, Bruce is the youngest of eight children, five boys and three girls, and he excelled in high school as an athlete and student leader. He earned 11 letters at LHS: four in football, three in basketball and four in track and field. He also played American Legion baseball for four years.

Morrison received the Wilford Mower Award in 1970 as the outstanding student athlete in the Big Horn Basin, the third LHS recipient after Roy Despain and Don Black.

When asked what his favorite sport was, his answer might seem surprising: “I probably liked baseball and basketball the most.” But he played college football at the University of Wyoming for one year before being called on a mission to Lima, Peru, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Morrison played some running back, quarterback and linebacker for the Bulldogs, but he was best known as a kicker and punter. He kicked for all four years of high school.

“Norm Opp coached me in seventh grade, the first year of junior high football in Lovell,” Morrison said. “Norm got a hold of me, worked with me for kicking and gave me the confidence to kick.”

As a junior, Morrison kicked two field goals of 42 and 46 yards against Cody, and he just missed a 50-yard field goal as a senior against Worland.

The two field goals against Cody impressed the referees, who came up to him after the game and said they were going to get his name “out there.” He said he hit from 55 yards in practice. The Bulldogs didn’t win many games with a smaller line trying to hold their own against much larger schools.

He was offered a full ride to attend the University of Wyoming and made the team following tryouts. He kicked for the freshman team that 1970 season but left to go on his mission to Peru, not particularly enjoying his experience in the final year of Lloyd Eaton’s tenure due to “circumstances,” he said.

In retrospect, Morrison said, he might have much more enjoyed playing basketball for Northwest Community College, noting that coach Hank Cabre recruited him, but he had already signed with UW.

“I kind of jumped the gun,” he said.


Morrison was a shooting guard for the Bulldogs under coach Richard Yeaman and was known for his picture perfect shooting form. He led the Bulldogs in scoring as a senior, averaging 22 points per game and earning all-state and all-conference honors playing against the likes of Casper Kelly Walsh, Lander, Riverton and Sheridan, as well as familiar Big Horn Basin foes.

Some of the players Morrison played with that season were point guard Kerry Engelking, small forward Jerry Doerr, power forward Scott Baxendale and center Jack Malcom. Providing a spark off the bench were John Powell, Bob Despain, Pat Woodward and Dean Tippetts. Morrison scored 27 points in a 71-69 win over Kelly Walsh in Casper.

At the Northern AA District Tournament in Thermopolis, the Bulldogs lost to Kelly Walsh 71-68, eliminated Riverton 71-69 and lost to Powell 74-56.

“We had beaten them in Powell that season, but they (school administration) wouldn’t let us stay in Thermop during the tournament. We even offered to pay for our own rooms,” Morrison said. “We had to go home and come back (the next morning to play Powell). We were just beat. We were hoping for a shot at State.”

The Bulldogs were honored with the Sportsmanship Award at the tournament, which was received by seniors Morrison, Powell, Baxendale and Doerr, and Morrison was presented the Mower Award at the tournament.

Morrison played church league and city league basketball in Lovell and Powell until he was 47 years old.

“The church league was big, and I (later) played in the over 35 league in Powell,” he said. “We played all over. We had a lot of fun. Talk about a knock down, drag out. I made a lot of friends over the years.”

In track and field, Morrison was a jumper, specializing in the high jump, long jump and the newly introduced triple jump. He set Lovell’s first school record in the triple jump, going 38-6.

He played Babe Ruth and American Legion baseball as a shortstop and utility infielder, also a pitcher, and played for Powell one season on a Legion team that advanced to the state finals.

He served as the student body vice president as a junior and the student body president his senior year.

After his mission, Morrison enrolled at BYU in Provo, where he met Linda Maughan of Idaho Falls, Idaho. The two were married and moved to Lovell in 1977, where Linda taught and Bruce worked a variety of jobs including at his brother Ron’s accounting firm. It was at that time when he was recruited by Dean Wolvington to start officiating.

40 years with a whistle

“Dean was running Dean’s Standard and walked in one day and asked if I wanted to referee football. He said, ‘You know the game,’ and I said, ‘Sure, why not?’ That’s where it started. They needed a guy really bad. I had never refereed JV or middle school or nothin’. So my first game was a varsity game over in Burlington,” Morrison said.

He went on to referee football and basketball for 40 years, and during four decades with a whistle officiated all levels of football and basketball from middle school to varsity high school ball, including numerous playoff games and two state football championship games.

Morrison said he recalls fondly the Big Piney-Mountain View championship game in Big Piney, saying it was a fun game, the coaches were great and the community very welcoming. Another highlight was refereeing the six-man state title game at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie between Dubois and Guernsey-Sunrise in 2014 with Chris Edwards, Greg Rael, Kevin Jones and BJ Kidgell.

“My philosophy with refereeing was that I always wanted good officials at whatever level, middle school, JV or varsity,” he said. “It was just as important to cover all of that. I was willing to referee at all levels.”

He said officials should never be at the forefront of a game.

“The official is not the game,” he said. “We’re there to make sure that everybody plays well. If the official becomes the focus of the game, you’re there for the wrong reason.”

Morrison was inducted into the Wyoming Sports Officials Hall of Fame in July of 2021.

A love of coaching

Morrison coached football and baseball at the younger levels, but what he really enjoyed was being an assistant coach at the high school level. He served as an assistant coach under Dave Scheffler to help the Lovell boys win back-to-back state titles in 2002 and 2003, and he was an assistant under Chris Edwards when the Lady Bulldogs captured state titles in 2011 and 2012. Overall, he coached with Scheffler for three seasons and with Bob Geiser and then Edwards for five seasons.

“It was always fun for me just to give my opinion to the head coach and just coaching those younger guys, trying to make ‘em better and prepare them for the head coach,” he said.

When the Bulldogs were winning back-to-back state titles under Scheffler, Morrison’s junior varsity teams went something like 29-0 over two years, he said, setting the table for the varsity squad.

“That renegade bunch of boys was fun to coach,” he said with a smile. “I was just fortunate. We had good boys when I was there, and we had good girls later. I coached with three really good head coaches.”

Community service

Both Bruce and Linda Morrison have a long record of community service. They co-chaired the Mustang Days celebration for some 20 years, and Bruce served on the Lovell Volunteer Fire Department for 34 years, retiring in 2016.

As with his other community engagements, Bruce established lasting relationships as a fireman, telling the Lovell Chronicle in April of 2016, “There isn’t one of the guys I’ve worked with for 34 years who is not my friend.”

“’82 was a big year,” he said. “My mother passed away, I joined the fire department, I started a business (Pioneer Service Center) and I ran for the town council.”

He has also served on the Foster Gulch Golf Association Board and is an elected member of the North Big Horn Hospital District Board of Trustees.

As a councilman and mayor, Morrison said he adopted the philosophy of mayor John Nickle that Lovell should provide the infrastructure to grow.

“The whole vision was that we needed to move Lovell along,” he said. “When John was the mayor we just built the facilities to make Lovell so we could be a viable 4 to 5,000 population town because we had the services in place. I just liked all that, moving forward and doing things.”

“One thing he always appreciated was the council,” Linda said. “The council members, all the time he served as a councilman as well as when he was the mayor, they worked so well together. He’d come home fired up about stuff. They all had input and helped each other during the pluses and the minuses.

“There was some, ‘Ah, we don’t want to do that.’ They just really had to work on ‘what is it that we really want?’ Sometimes they agreed, and sometimes they didn’t, but their friendships were kind of the foundation and always kept them going in a positive way.”

Morrison said he always enjoyed having a woman’s voice on the council, noting Dorothy Nelson, Valerie Beal, Sydney Mickelson Beal and Jodi Lindsay. He also enjoyed working with town treasurers Marilyn Croy and Valerie Beal.

“I had the best town treasurers you could ever ask for,” he said. “They were just wonderful. They’d let us know when we were out of line. Those gals were sharp.”

Morrison noted the many projects the town completed over the years including the community center, joining in the Shoshone Municipal Pipeline project, the water and sewer infrastructure project, parks development, baseball fields and more.

Morrison’s jobs over the years included Morrison Accounting, Dean’s Standard, Woodcraft Cabinets, D&S Construction and the Pioneer Service Center with Linda. He then caught on with School District No. 2 and there learned how to install and repair sprinkler systems, which he has done for many years.

 He and Linda have two children, Natalie Wardell and Ryan Morrison, and three grandchildren.

Love of community

Summing up his years of service, Morrison noted, “I guess I’ve always been sold on Lovell from the time I was born. When I met Linda at school, for some reason she knew we were going to move back here, and so did I.”

“I knew from early on that his heart was in the Basin,” Linda added. “It was the mountains, it was the people, the whole combination. He thought this was the perfect place to live and grow up and raise a family. There was no question. It was part of who he is, and I knew that.”

“I felt this community gave a lot to me, and I think athletics was a big part of that,” Morrison said. “I feel like I’m the person I’ve become because of
what I learned at Lovell schools, so I just wanted to come back and return that so that others could have that same chance.

“I don’t want to hang the title on me, but I’m Mr. Lovell.”

“He wants to see others succeed, and he wants to help,” Linda said. “It’s a win-win.”

Morrison will be inducted into the LHS Athletic Hall of Fame this Friday evening during the Lovell-Powell basketball games.