North Medford High wrestling coach Phillip Lopez isn't the type to get carried away.
Eagle Point High School is taking a step that's years in the making thanks to the efforts of 2001 graduate Dr. James Mannenbach and current Eagle Point athletic director Bryan Wood.
As president of the Eagle Point Alumni Association, Mannenbach recently announced that his group, in conjunction with Wood and the EP school district, will introduce a Hall of Eagles program this year that seeks to recognize all the best and brightest from the school and community.
"We're just getting it off the ground and hopefully we'll get it to grow from here," Mannenbach said Monday.
The Hall of Eagles will honor outstanding alumni, staff members and community supporters who have added to the legacy of the school. It will be housed in a room adjacent to the gymnasium at the high school.
"We're just looking to celebrate the success of Eagle Point graduates in general," said Wood. "Basically our hope is just to celebrate the history, tradition and success of Eagle Point graduates and keep a link with them and keep them vested in our school."
Wood, in his third year at EPHS, said the idea spilled forth from conversations in the athletic department over the years but really took flight with the help of Mannenbach, who was a three-sport standout for the Eagles, and the EPAA.
"It's been something that we've wanted to do for sure and now I've worked hard to free up the space for it so we're moving forward," said Wood. "It's something I really feel can be beneficial to the community and the school and I really felt it was just time to celebrate. We have a lot of successful people that have gone through our school and I'd just like to celebrate that."
Mannenbach was a three-sport standout in his days at Eagle Point and still lives in the community. He found the most success as a wrestler. He was the state runner-up at 171 pounds his senior year — and likely would've been a multiple champion had it not been for constantly being matched up with Crater High star Shane Webster — and went on to NAIA All-American status for Southern Oregon University.
A 4.0 student while at Eagle Point High who earned valedictorian honors, Mannenbach also was a scholar-athlete honoree at SOU, earning his degree in 2006. He then went to Eastern Washington a gained a doctorate in physical therapy, and now works at the Progressive Rehabilitation and Work Injury Center in White City.
"For me it's great just to see these positive things that keep happening at Eagle Point and it's cool for me to be a part of sharing that with everyone," said Mannenbach. "I feel like so many people motivated me while I was there and I'm just trying to fill in the gaps and continue the tradition at Eagle Point."
The thing Mannenbach and Wood each want to point out is the Hall of Eagles, while it likely will include numerous athletes, is for all who excelled in their time at or after Eagle Point High or have been pivotal community members who have given to the school's programs.
"I think it might start out with athletics a little more because that's the easiest to get nominated and in there," said Mannenbach, "but we want to broaden that scope and include other activities or community members who have done great things for the high school and the district. We think it's really important for not only athletic achievements but academic achievements to be recognized."
More information on the Hall of Eagles and the EPAA can be found at www.epalumni.org, and that's also where nomination forms can be downloaded with directions where they can be sent. Nominations are currently being taken, with the hope that the first class of honorees be announced in January with another coming in the spring.
"We want it to be special and we obviously don't want to just start with a large induction and water it down so to speak," said Wood. "We definitely want to keep it with high standards and something we can celebrate as community."
A committee of volunteers is currently being formed by Mannenbach and Wood to sift through the nominations and then vote on those who should be brought to the EPAA's Board of Trustees, which is comprised of Wood, Mannenbach and Jonathan Bilden, among others.
"We're just excited to get this started," said Wood. "The more the community can be involved and the more nominations we can get, especially for somebody like me who is new to area and doesn't necessarily know all the history, then the better off we'll be."
NORTH MEDFORD LOST one of its own last Wednesday with the passing of former coach Tom Marier, who died surrounded by his family in Portland at age 88.
Marier was honored during a ceremony prior to North Medford's football game on Friday at Spiegelberg Stadium. He began coaching for the Black Tornado in 1957 and continued until 1999. Marier was on the sidelines for six of the football team's state championships, and was a coach for all three teams when the Black Tornado made state history by being the only school ever to win championships in football, basketball and baseball in the same school year (1959-60).
Marier served in the Navy during World War II before graduating from Washington State University in 1951, where he played football and baseball. After a career playing professional baseball was cut short due to injuries, he began his work in Medford. He was an assistant to Black Tornado coaching legends Fred Spiegelberg (football), Frank Roelandt (basketball), John Kovenz (baseball) and Rod Rumrey (football), among others.
Family members are hoping to organize a public memorial after Thanksgiving.