Laughs, cheers and a few tears
In many ways, the Madras Athletics Hall of Fame is a symbol of the community's longevity in its programs and those who are part of them.
A half-century of that Madras athletics history was highlighted last Friday, when seven individuals, spanning the 1940s to 1990s were formally inducted as the hall's second annual class.
As event host Tom Norton noted during the ceremony, two of those people inducted on Friday, Margaret Sturza, former Madras athletic director, and Dave Wiles, who coached the 1976-77 girls basketball team, represent that longevity. Both worked and coached at Madras for three decades, and reached a countless number of kids during their tenures, Norton said. They are two of many Madras coaches and administrators over the years who have overseen athletes reaching their accomplishments.
The group of inductees included Joe Stensgar, Gregg Macy, Carrie (Hawes) Preston, Loren Corwin, Kathy (Pirrie) Noethlich, Brian Miller, along with Sturza and the '76-'77 girls basketball team.
From 1977 to 1993, Sturza served as a volleyball, track and field and girls basketball coach at Madras. In 1994, she became the school's first female athletic director, in a move that was met with some opposition.
"Being the first female athletic director at Madras High, I had a few challenges," Sturza said. "I'm sure that most thought I wouldn't last very long. Well, I showed them."
Sturza stayed in the role for 14 years, before retiring in 2007 with numerous AD accolades and a lineage of five Madras coaches who went on to become athletic directors. During her tenure, a number of elite athletes walked through the halls of Madras.
One of them was Preston, a three-sport athlete who earned a full-ride basketball scholarship to Portland State after graduating MHS in 1995. She credited several coaches, including Sturza, Fred Blackman and Evan Brown, with shaping her as an athlete.
"I mostly enjoyed my college years, especially the opportunity to continue playing basketball ... But I can honestly say some of the best years of my life were here at Madras High School," Preston said.
Miller was also around in the mid-1990s. The class of 1998 grad bookended his prep athletic career with a pair of individual state golf titles, as a freshman and senior. He also was part of a few state tournament contending boys basketball teams, notably the '96-'97 team that finished second at state.
Under Brown, his boys basketball coach, Miller and his teammates were pushed to their limits, but saw the results pay off in the end.
"He was probably the best coach I ever had," Miller said. "A very disciplined guy who tortured us and made us the best we could be."
Wiles spoke about the great group of girls he coached to a girls basketball title, with many of them — who were students Marla Patt, Kimiko Danzuka, Mary Nelson, Fran Moses, Molly Davis, Roberta Koch, Debbie Cosgrove, Kim Manion and manager Lisa Nelson — standing at the front of the stage during the speech.
"It was our first state championship, just a great experience for myself and I know it was for the girls, and one you never forget," said an emotional Wiles.
Noethlich, who lives in Conneticut and was unable to attend, was represented by her high school track coach, Janice Alexander.
Surprisingly, Noethlich nearly sat out her senior track season. She, along with Bonita Souers, who was inducted into the MHS Hall of Fame last year, talked to Alexander before the season. The three proceeded to talk for an hour, with Alexander eventually convincing her pair of budding track stars to stick with the sport.
Noethlich's 19 foot, 1 inch long jump mark, set in her senior year in 1972, remains the 3A girls long jump record. She and Souers also were a big reason why the Lady Buffs won the 1972 AA state track and field championship.
"Thank heavens they did, because they were state champions," Alexander said.
Macy went out on top as a senior on the boys basketball team in 1961, as they captured the Buffs' first-ever state title in any sport, and did so in Ole Johnson's last season as head coach.
Macy thanked the Madras community, and his coach, Johnson, whom he credited with being an ambassador to Madras athletics.
Corwin, who passed away in 2012, was represented by his brother, Larry Corwin.
Larry Corwin said that, although Loren Corwin graduated in 1951 and he wasn't born until 1956, his older brother's athletic success and toughness as a cowboy cast a big shadow to grow up under.
Stensgar made a name for himself in football, wrestling and baseball, truly encompassing the title of "all-around athlete."
As a pitcher, his three consecutive no-hitters during his senior season was among his greatest accomplishments. But he gave credit to his team.
"Although that was a great feat on my part, it wouldn't have been possible without the team behind me. They played almost flawlessly," Stensgar said.
If there's an athlete, coach or team you feel is deserving of being inducted in a future class, visit www.madrasathletics.org to obtain a nomination form.