Marshfield honors champions, mentors

2009-08-24T00:00:00Z Marshfield honors champions, mentorsBy John Gunther, Sports Editor Coos Bay World
August 24, 2009 12:00 am  • 

It was a night to honor state champions and standout coaches — and in one case both.

Marshfield High School inducted the seventh class for its Hall of Fame on Saturday at The Mill Casino-Hotel, recognizing four individuals — former coaches Wayne Van Burger and Judy Parker and state-champion athletes Barb (Hanen) Gerrone and Rich “Mac” McIntosh, as well as the school’s first girls team to win a state championship, in tennis in 1967.

McIntosh, a 1971 Marshfield graduate, could claim the honor of both state champion — in the high hurdles in track and field — and standout coach. His first boys team as head track coach for the Pirates last spring won the Class 5A state title.

His daughter, Rachael (McIntosh) Taylor, provided one of the light moments of the evening while speaking on behalf of her father.

“My father, my hero — or more appropriate, Mac the Magnificent,” she said before describing McIntosh’s distinguished honors as a track champion at Marshfield and then the Air Force Academy, and then as a fighter jet pilot in a 30-year career in the Air Force.

McIntosh was part of a world-record setting shuttle hurdle team at the academy, and his daughter described meet officials often telling stories about his accomplishments when she participated on the track team at the academy decades later.

McIntosh and his high school sweetheart and wife of 34 years, Linnea, were able to retire to Coos Bay, and he joined the track program, first as a hurdles coach and then as the head coach, where he has proven an effective teacher.

“In his own way, he tricks you into doing your best,” his daughter said. “He’s a track champion, a world record holder and the greatest fighter pilot in the world. Perhaps his greatest role is as mentor and role model.”

McIntosh gave credit to his mentors at Marshfield, including legendary coaches Pete Susick, John Johnson, Walt McClure and Stan Solomon.

“Marshfield prepared me for life as an adult,” he said. “The coaches at Marshfield taught me lessons that reinforced the lessons Mom and Dad taught — work hard, compete harder and don’t quit.”

While McIntosh followed in the footsteps of other great Marshfield track champions, Gerrone was a trendsetter when opportunities for girls to compete in sports were just starting.

The gymnastics program at Marshfield started in 1964, and in 1966, Gerrone was the all-around state champion, clinching the title by winning the vault, the final event and leading the Pirates to third place as a team.

She joins her father, Dick Hanen, as a member of the Marshfield Hall of Fame — he was inducted in 2005.

Caddy (Hanen) McKeown introduced her sister and brought laughter from the crowd of 300 people when she compared the three sisters — also including Becky — and said Barb stood out.

“Barb, we recognized early as the humble and quiet and very talented and gifted of the three of us,” she said. “She got those traits from Dad. Neither Becky or I have any of those traits, especially the quiet or talented parts.”

In turn, Barb said she was not gifted with the speaking abilities of her sister, also drawing laughter.

“All I can do is say thanks to Mom and Dad, who drove us back and forth to the meets,” Gerrone said. “The most fun is I get to share (the honor) with my dad.”

The 1967 tennis team is the sixth team inducted into the Hall of Fame, and the first girls program.

Like the gymnastics program, the tennis team had started only a few years before its championship.

But the team, coached by Jan (Rust) Oden, reached great heights quickly. Mary Paczesniak was the district singles champion, while Janie (Chiene) Miller and Peggy (Eddy) Lucas won the doubles title, followed by teammates Anne (Guenther) Messerle and Angie (Guenther) Morrison in second place and Kathy (Krummel) Schmitz and Carol (Hanson) Bigart in third. Vicki (Crumpacker) Newman was the district singles consolation winner.

Newman spoke on behalf of the group Saturday, while Paczesniak provided humorous visual images.

“We were the epitome of the word team,” she said. “We didn’t have a player who was the top in the state. We had several who were among the top players.”

She described the challenges facing the early team, which didn’t get to practice on the best courts, traveled to matches in a crummy — a truck more often associated with logging crews — but reached great success under its founding coach.

The team won the district title in Eugene and then the state title in Corvallis, but returned to school with little notice.

“There was no hoopla, as with the boys sports,” Newman said. “In 1967, we were friends with a mission…. “That year was very special.”

Marshfield Principal Greg Mulkey credited that tennis team for having a long-lasting impact on the school.

“If you stop and think about ladies athletics — where it started and where it is today, these ladies … paved the way so we could have the programs that we have today.”

The most successful program at Marshfield over the past two decades has been the dance team, and Parker was honored Saturday for guiding that program to four state titles. The Upbeats earned trophies at the state championships all 12 years Parker was coach.

Bill Lilley, who helped coach the team for several years during Parker’s tenure, said she was successful because she built great relationships with the dancers.

“Judy’s caring and concern for the team was unbelievable,” Lilley said.

Parker spent her time at the podium expressing thanks to people ranging from the many sponsors of the dancers to her fellow teachers and coaches, not to mention the dancers and their parents.

“I am grateful for the trust you put in me to take care of your girls,” she said.

Parker also said she and her husband, former Superintendent Giles Parker, were grateful for how the community embraced them when they moved to Coos Bay 25 years ago.

“We would not pick any other place to live,” she said.

Like Parker, Van Burger also was a transplant to Coos Bay, though he grew up in nearby Coquille.

After starting his teaching and coaching career in Seaside, he was an assistant football coach at Marshfield for 31 years. But he made his biggest mark in the wrestling program, where he was an assistant coach for 10 years and the head coach for 21 more.

Van Burger’s teams won nine district titles and were second another seven times. In the district dual meet standings, Marshfield finished first 10 times, second 10 more and third once. He coached 336 district placers, 128 state placers, 11 state champions and 11 high school All-Americans, and is a member of the Oregon Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Van Burger said that among the things he is most proud of are that his son, Ty, was the only four-time state placer in school history.

He recognized the school’s many other standout coaches, and noted that all of them were teachers.

“I always believed you had to be a teacher first, and then a coach,” he said.

Gary Roberts, who wrestled for Van Burger and now is the head football coach at Cottage Grove, said he uses lessons from Van Burger in his own coaching, such as the value of hard work, the importance of being accountable for your actions and, most important, not to cut corners, rather always doing the job right.

“Coach was a great role model for me,” Roberts said.

“He’s a wonderful man. I just hope that one day my athletes look at me in the same light that I look at him.”

Copyright 2015 Coos Bay World. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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