EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one in a series on the Medford Sports Hall of Fame induction class of 2012. Today, the "Coach" category. Saturday, the "Athlete" category.
when, where: Saturday, Rogue Valley Country Club, 4:30 p.m. social hour, 5:30 dinner, 6:30 program.
TICKETS: Cost $30. To order, call Donna at 541-773-9400 or Larry at 541-840-2626.
When Rod Rumrey decided to become a football coach, flights of fancy had him working the sideline as Notre Dame's head coach.
He didn't make it there, but the former North Medford High mentor isn't complaining.
"Getting the head football job for the Black Tornado, that was pretty much a dream come true," says Rumrey, who took North Medford to two state championship games and is being recognized this week for his accomplishments with induction into the Medford Sports Hall of Fame.
"I knew the history of the Black Tornado, and then to coach in a stadium like Spiegelberg in front of the Medford fans, it was a tremendous opportunity. I can't imagine any high school job being better than the job I had."
Rumrey is one of four entering the Hall in the coaching category. They and 12 others — bringing the total to 146 — will be enshrined Saturday at Rogue Valley Country Club.
Rumrey had two stints as North Medford's coach, beginning with a 13-year run in 1988, then tacking on two more seasons in 2004-05.
His team won the 1993 state championship and the 2000 edition was state runner-up.
Of his 35 years coaching football, 32 were spent as a head coach at Glendale, Sweet Home — where he also had a state champion and a state runner-up — and North Medford.
Rumrey, whose record with the Black Tornado was 94-62, ranks 16th on the list of winningest Oregon prep coaches. His career record was 218-105.
He's also been an assistant softball coach at North Medford for 19 seasons.
Rumrey was born in Ellendale, N.D., and raised in the Portland area, attending first Tigard High, then Newberg as a junior and senior.
A star athlete — he received all-state recognition in football and basketball — his primary motivation for attending college was so he could continue to play sports.
"The one thing that gave me confidence and a lot of opportunities was being involved with athletics," he says.
At Newberg, he set a school record by scoring 38 points in a game. The coach his junior year was Jimmy Anderson, who went on to serve as Ralph Miller's chief assistant at Oregon State, then replaced Miller.
During a bowl game years later, Rumrey found himself sitting in front of former Beaver basketball star Gary Payton. Rumrey jokingly asked Payton if he knew who the two best point guards were that Anderson ever had as a head coach.
"Obviously me," Payton said, "but I don't know if he coached any others."
"We had a great talk," Rumrey says.
Rumrey's competitive basketball days ended at Newberg, but he played two years of football and baseball at Olympic Junior College in Bremerton, Wash., and two more seasons in both sports at Southern Oregon University.
He went to SOU as a quarterback, but the Raiders "already had this chubby little bald-headed guy" playing the position, Rumrey laughs. He referred to former Medford great Danny Miles, himself a Hall member and now record-setting men's basketball coach at Oregon Tech in Klamath Falls.
Rumrey moved to wide receiver, catching 57 passes each of his two seasons with the Raiders. He caught them for one season from Miles, who still owns a number of school passing records.
"We threw quite a bit," says Rumrey.
The SOU baseball team at that time included several players who would go on to coaching greatness. In addition to Rumrey and Miles, former North Medford softball coach Larry Binney and former Marshfield football coach Kent Wigle were on the team.
Upon graduation from SOU, Rumrey spent time teaching and coaching Eagle Point, then became the head coach for three years at Glendale before moving to Sweet Home.
At each step, former Medford district athletic director Kerm Bennett — whom Rumrey considers his mentor — was a guiding force, and that didn't change when the North Medford job became available in the late '80s.
"I really wasn't looking to move at all," says Rumrey. "But after talking to Kerm, it was obvious that that was going to be the right move. I was definitely very happy with the way things were going at Sweet Home. But after talking to Kerm, this job sounded too good to pass up."
When Rumrey first retired in 2000, he was of a mind that the '93 state-title team was the most improved of any team he'd coached.
"There were seven seniors on that team that started as sophomores," he says. "They took their lumps, and the next couple years, those guys were tremendous leaders. They were looking to get a little payback for what they went through as sophomores."
That team got past one Southern Oregon Conference rival, Grants Pass, in the semifinals. In the championship game, the Black Tornado trailed another league foe, Ashland, 18-7 at halftime, but rallied behind Kerry Curtis' 141 rushing yards and two touchdowns for a 27-24 triumph.
Rumrey's last team, in 2005, rivaled the '93 squad for overachieving. North Medford was picked to finish fourth in the SOC, began the season 1-3, then won seven straight games before losing in the quarterfinals.
"I was pretty proud of the effort by that group," he says.
Rumrey is no less proud of a couple other endeavors.
With his help, the Black Tornado softball team has won five state championships, including two of the past four.
Off the playing field, the golf tournament he ran for a decade raised more than $40,000 in scholarship money and will continue to provide financial aid for North Medford students for another decade or so.
Rumrey, who now spends his time chasing after grandchildren and coaching youth sports, is humbled by the Hall selection.
"To be recognized in the Hall of Fame in what is undoubtedly one of the biggest sports towns in the Northwest is quite an honor," he says. "To think of the people who have gotten into it, it's quite an honor to be included in that bunch."
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email email@example.com