Cross-country and track and field coach Joe Fulton talks about Paul Mariman's contributions to Warrior athletics during the May 20 Philomath High School Hall of Fame induction ceremony. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Words of kindness, love and respect for Paul Mariman filled the local high school’s auditorium Saturday evening.

Former athletes, an assistant and a family member were among those taking the podium to share their memories for the late longtime Warriors coach during a Philomath High School Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Mariman taught and coached for 37 years in Oregon with more than 20 of those in Philomath. He died unexpectedly in 1997 at age 61.

Two other individuals were inducted into the Hall of Fame last weekend — Phil Davis, a standout multi-sport athlete from 1957-60, and Fern Robinson, a coaching pioneer in women’s athletics whose volleyball and track and field teams won state titles in the 1980s and 1990s.

In addition, seven of Mariman’s state champion teams were honored — 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989 and 1990 girls cross-country and 1993 boys cross-country. Robinson’s three state title teams were inducted as well — 1986 volleyball and 1990 and 1991 girls track and field. The 1972 boys track and field squad was also inducted.

Mariman’s impact

Joe Fulton, former assistant under Mariman and the head coach of Philomath’s cross-country and track programs for the past several years, shared details about his friend and mentor to the large banquet crowd in attendance.

“He was the most unlikely of heroes — mild-mannered, modest, soft-spoken, gentle and believe it or not, a bit shy,” Fulton said. “He was clean-cut, honest, compassionate man. He didn’t drink, smoke, swear or possess ill will toward anyone.”

Fulton added that Mariman had his quirks from never using a typewriter or computer and writing everything down in “perfect penmanship” to the work of art that was his classroom chalkboard. He also mentioned his preference to trust his own stride more than a measuring wheel to lay out courses and check distances.

“He had a perfect one-meter stride that we all called the ‘Mari-meter … with his head down and elongated stride, counting out 5,000 Mari-meters to get a perfect 5,000-meter cross-country course,” Fulton said.

Gabe Mariman talks about his father while Joe Fulton looks on during Saturday night’s event. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Mariman’s coaching career started in Alsea (1958-60) and continued with stops in Philomath (1960-62), Newberg (1962-71), Enterprise (1971-75) and back at Philomath (1975-94).

“He just has a knack to work with kids and he has a great respect that’s developed from the kids. He does all kinds of things to motivate kids,” the late Gary Cox, who served as PHS athletic director for many years, said in a 1991 newspaper interview. “He’s certainly a goal-oriented, organized person with a deep, deep concern for all the kids in the educational system, be it in the classroom or on the field.”

Beyond those seven state titles, Mariman earned several honors for his coaching abilities, including numerous awards at the statewide level. In 1991, he was named the Region 7 Coach of the Year in girls cross-country.

Several members of Mariman’s family were on hand for last weekend’s event, including children and grandchildren.

“We had nine kids … eight of us graduated from Philomath and we were blessed to grow up in this community,” Gabe Mariman said, “and to get all of the amazing wealth of knowledge and love and support that this community has offered all of the student athletes — the teachers, the administrators, the volunteers and we’re just very honored to be here today again and we’re honored to be Warriors.”

Tasha Nuno shares excerpts from a journal that she kept from the 1989 season. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Diedre Opager (who was Diedre Dye in high school) spoke about the 1984, 1985 and 1986 state championship teams. Opager described Mariman as a saint — a patient, encouraging coach. Among her comments was insight on team meetings.

“Every week, you’d have this whole letter written up with a positive thought for the week, our goal for the week and what our PR (personal record) was so that we could have something to aim for,” Opager said. “And again, it was written in his impeccable, perfect penmanship.”

Tasha Nuno (who was Tasha Bushnell in high school) talked about the 1988, 1989 and 1990 state championship teams. She read from a journal that she had kept during the 1989 season and even displayed a cross-country ladder workout that Mariman had put down on paper for the athletes.

“Part of the success came from the fact that this team always seemed to be having so much fun … I would bet that out of all of the teams that Philomath’s cross-country teams, particularly in the ’80s and the  ’90s … had more fun than any other team at PHS,” Nuno said. “I think part of that was a combination of just the good, fun kids that are drawn to cross-country.”

Ricky Knutson, who ran on the state champion boys cross-country team in 1993, also spoke about Mariman’s influence and read a playful “newspaper-style” story that the coach had written at the athletes’ request to recap the season.

Steve Bennett talks to a packed PHS auditorium on Saturday night. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Hall of Fame

The Philomath High School Hall of Fame recognizes past athletes, coaches and teams “who have contributed success, tradition, integrity, development and continue to promote the growth of Philomath High School’s athletic programs,” according to the Hall of Fame Committee’s mission statement.

The Hall of Fame’s inaugural class was inducted last year and included Cox, Shirley Lagestee, Trisha Stevens, Terry and Kevin Boss, Woody Bennett, 1986 and 87 girls basketball and 1988 football

“It’s really a year-long process to get to this day and it’s rewarding once you get here to see all these people that you’ve talked about and what a special night it is and how much it means to people,” PHS Hall of Fame Committee member and emcee Steve Bennett said. “The commitment of this group, this committee, is huge to get here.”

Along with Bennett, the PHS Hall of Fame Committee also includes Marcia Gilson, John Hanson, Paula May, Shelley Niemann, Jackie Olsen, Terry Stephenson, Kay Yechout and Kathi Sollars.

Under the same umbrella, the school also has the PHS Sports Hall of Fame established in the 1960s that annually adds student athletes that fit certain qualification standards. Bennett said that 14 athletes from the Class of 2023 qualified for the list — not yet counting any additions from track and field.

In addition, the Philomath Legends Club, established in 2011 and now selected by that group’s members, recognizes people in the community that have stood out with their support and service toward local student athletes and the community over the years.

PHS Hall of Fame Committee member Steve Bennett, left, shakes hands with inductee Phil Davis. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Davis, Robinson

Davis spread out his athletic talents year round in cross-country, basketball, track and field and baseball. He earned a combined 14 letters in those sports with multiple all-league and all-state honors.

Bennett said Davis “established himself as the first PHS track athlete to place at the state meet in school history.”

Davis went on to play college basketball and baseball at Pacific University and basketball at Oregon College of Education (now Western Oregon) where he earned more accolades for his play. He broke OCE’s school record for shooting percentage and most rebounds in a season.

Davis, who lives with his wife in Independence, was in attendance at the banquet and appeared on stage to accept a plaque.

PHS Hall of Fame inductee Fern Robinson talks about her coaching days with the Warriors. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Robinson, a 1967 PHS graduate, returned after college to the local school five years later as a physical education teacher and retained until her retirement in 2002. Her primary areas of coaching were in volleyball and track and field, but she also led teams in basketball and swimming.

“When I was hired as a PE teacher, that included coaching all of the girls’ sports because nobody else wanted to do it,” Robinson said. “So in 1972, Title IX was passed and that was the same year that I started coaching and I’m proud to say that I was one of the pioneers in getting equal opportunity for women in sports.”

Robinson’s track and field teams in 16 years never finished lower than second in the league and won those state titles in 1990 and 1991. Her squads won 11 league championships and she earned multiple coaching awards. Her girls track teams had a record of 141 wins and just 15 losses in dual meets.

Robinson’s volleyball teams won 12 Valco League championships and went to the state tournament 14 straight years with the 3A title in 1986. She also won numerous coaching awards and had a record of 436-153 in 25 years.

Larry Turner coached the 1972 boys track and field team to Philomath High’s first-ever official state championship. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Teams honored

Former standout runner Gordy Byers and head coach Larry Turner shared their memories from the 1972 boys track and field team, which won the school’s first-ever state title. Other athletes on the squad were Randy Byers, Dennis Bennett, Harvey Miller, Ron Bennett and Dan Campbell.

Players on the other teams honored during the evening:

• 1986 volleyball — Yvonne Bailey, Tina Baumann, Angela Burbank, Donna Chambers, Marka Dye, Jeanie Fischleer, Christi Lethrud, Michelle Pearson, Tara Semmel, Sandy Stanton, Trisha Stevens, Carla Thomas and Leah Vaughn with Robinson as coach and Julie Bower as manager.

• 1990 girls track and field — Tara Baumann, Jackie Conlee, Brooke Cutsforth, Belinda Dover, Whittney Dye, Kay Magee, Kim Rybel and Jamie Vandehey with Robinson as coach and Joe Fulton, Les Charles and Todd Witzell as assistant coaches.

• 1991 girls track and field — Becci Harper, Kati Nesbitt, Tara Baumann, Brooke Cutsforth, Kim Rybel, Jamie Vandehey, Angela Larrabee, Melissa Larrabee and Tracy Hibner with Robinson as coach and Fulton, Bill Vandehey, Lori Jensen and Brian Lucas as assistant coaches.

Kim Koenig talks about the 1990 and 1991 state champion girls track and field teams. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

• 1984 girls cross-country — Kristi Allen, Julie Minter, Angie McFarlane, Tamara Nesbitt, Kristen Peterson, Becky Strawn, Deidra Dye, Laurie Fletcher, Sydney Thomson and Becky Myhrum with Mariman as coach.

• 1985 girls cross-country — Kristi Allen, Angie McFarlane, Julie Minter, Kristen Peterson, Deidra Dye, Marijo Davis, Sara Thomas, Sydney Thomson and Jennifer Kiger with Mariman as coach.

• 1986 girls cross-country — Marijo Davis, Deidre Dye, Whittney Dye, Kristen Gregory, Linda Hiser, Angie McFarlane, Julie Minter and Kristen Peterson with Mariman as coach.

• 1988 girls cross-country — Whittney Dye, Dena Parrish, Tammy Peterson, Marijo Davis, Brooke Cutsforth, Jackie Conlee, Jamie Vandehey, Amy Gosser and Kristen Gregory with Mariman as coach.

• 1989 girls cross-country — Hedie Schulte, Whittney Dye, Dena Parrish, Tammy Peterson, Brooke Cutsforth, Jackie Conlee, Angela Larrabee, Tasha Bushnell, Lynda Heilman, Jamie Vandehey, Jennifer Vandehey and Amy Gosser with Mariman as coach.

• 1990 girls cross-country — Myndee Blowers, Jackie Conlee, Angela Larrabee, Tasha Bushnell, Brooke Cutsforth, Amy Gosser, Jamie Vandehey, Sandra Espinosa, Susie Griffin, Heidi Grube, Hedie Schulte and Leona Westdahl with Mariman as coach.

• 1993 boys cross-country — Tyler Bushnell, Mike Cruise, Stephen Cruise, Adam Hale, Jared Hale, Ricky Knutson, Kevin Marshall, Tim Peterson, Tyler Smith and Eric Thompson with Mariman as coach.

Brad Fuqua

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.

Leave a comment