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Jess Thurman

Coquille Hall of Fame inductee Jess Thurman, center was joined Saturday by a large group of family members including, from left, Colleen Thurman, Maddy Olson, Bryan Baumbarger, Lorin Baumbarger, Patty Jo Baumburger, Diana Lavender, Gary Lavender, Nick Piovanelli and Kelsey Lavender. 

COQUILLE — Though only four of the new members to Coquille’s Hall of Fame were able to attend Saturday’s annual banquet and induction ceremony, the others were represented by people who shared stories or their sentiments for being chosen for the honor.

This year’s class included two standouts from more than 50 years ago, two stellar athletes from the 1990s, a student who stood out before girls sports were sanctioned, a major contributor to the football programs for decades and the 1963 boys basketball team that lost the state championship game by two points in overtime.

Three members of that team were at the ceremony, as well as Jess Thurman, who played for legendary Coquille coach Spike Leslie.

Coquille's 1963 basketball team was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame on Saturday. Players present for the ceremony included, from left,…

Thurman, who lost his hand in an accident before his senior year of high school, didn’t let the injury slow him down, in large part because of the inspiration of Leslie.

“Without Spike Leslie, he wouldn’t have been able to continue,” said Diana Lavender, Thurman’s daughter, who spoke for him. “Spike said, ‘Jess, it only takes one hand to center the ball.’”

Thurman went on to get a scholarship to Linfield, where he played for the Wildcats before becoming a teacher and administrator at Douglas and Glide high schools and eventually a coach of the Red Devils.

He still lives in Coquille.

“He’s a Red Devil at heart,” Lavender said.

Thurman graduated in 1952, a decade before inductee Ron Stein, who is the only boy in school history to be named to the all-tournament team at the state basketball tournament twice (Darian Wilson was recently twice honored at the girls state tournament for Coquille).

Stein also was an all-league baseball player and competed in track and field and football. His son ended up being inducted into Canby’s Hall of Fame.

Stein wasn’t able to attend Saturday’s event, but was represented by classmate Hugh Pinkston, who described Stein as a standout player among great teammates.

“It was a very special time,” Pinkston said. “We had amazing basketball teams. We had amazing school spirit during that time.”

Stein was part of teams that finished second and third at the state tournament. That was right before the 1963 team followed that trend, overcoming a slow start despite three brand new varsity players in the starting lineup and only one player taller than 6 feet.

“We had a great time,” said Dave Wood, who was joined at the ceremony by teammates Ed Metcalf and Joe Stonecypher. “We had a great following in the community.

“I wish we had won the championship game.”

Coquille came up just short, losing by two points to Central in overtime.

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One other inductee sent a video message for the audience.

Tsianina (Means) Lohmann, who graduated in 1993 and received the distinguished alumni honor, now lives in Kentucky, where she and her husband have five children, the youngest 7 months, said she was grateful for being inducted.

She had a great athletic career for Coquille, followed by a long list of accomplishments including being a dancer for the Portland Trail Blazers, a fitness champion and an actress, and said her growing up in Coquille led to all of that.

“It’s a great honor,” she said. “I want to thank my parents, who supported me in everything I did, and all the coaches and teachers and administrators who helped me get to where I am today.

“You really raise children up right.”

Laura Gibson, who graduated in 1997 and was an all-star basketball and volleyball player, as well as a state champion both individually (high jump) and as a relay team member (4x400 relay) for Coquille’s track team, was unable to attend the ceremony because she is in New York writing a novel.

Gibson, who also became an accomplished musician, was represented by Sharon Nelson, one of her high school coaches.

“Laura was not just an athlete, she was a scholar athlete,” Nelson said. “She was a bright young lady.”

Nelson said Gibson was the type of team member all coaches want, “an athlete with tenacity who would never give up.”

The other woman inducted Saturday was Katie (Lytle) Paulino, who competed in all the sports available before the Oregon School Activities Association sanctioned girls sports in Oregon and was Coquille’s most valuable player in both volleyball and field hockey and also got to experience Coquille’s 1970 state title in football as a part of the rally squad.

Paulino, who now lives in Hawaii, was unable to attend, but Coquille athletic director Dan Hampton said, “She cannot stress enough how important it was she got to have these experiences.”

Saturday’s other inductee was former Coquille Police Chief Corky Daniels, who received the George Johnson Outstanding Booster Award, a fitting honor since Daniels and Johnson were best friends.

Daniels, who died this summer, provided medical assistance for years to the high school and middle school football programs and later was a super fan for the school, rarely missing basketball games alongside Johnson, who died a few years ago.

He was represented by his wife, Jennie, who related the story of telling Corky about the honor before he died.

“I told him he was being inducted,” she said. “He said, ‘Why?’ I said, because of all you did. He said, ‘I got a lot more than I gave.’”

In addition to the induction ceremonies, the event included live and silent auctions to raise money for the Booster Club, which supports the school’s athletic programs.

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Sports Editor John Gunther can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 241, or by email at john.gunther@theworldlink.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jguntherworld.

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