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Deadline nears for Tornado showcase

Tim Sam has long believed the rich history of the Black Tornado should be celebrated.

Medford High and North Medford High — the two schools with the Black Tornado mascot — have had an impressive array of athletes, coaches and exceptional contributors connected to them, and soon they'll have a special place designated at North.

The Black Tornado Athletic Wall of Fame is in the works and next fall will induct its first class — a whopping 115 or so, thanks to those already in the Medford Sports Hall of Fame who will be grandfathered in.

Sam is in his 10th year as athletic directory at North Medford, which grew out of the 1986 split that also created South Medford High.

"The big chunk that I've always felt was missing was a piece of our history," said Sam. "When people walk in, there should be some way for them to know that Dick Fosbury was here, that Bill Bowerman coached here, that Danny Miles came from here. There's nothing anywhere that shows that or represents that. A big chunk of our focus is putting together information on those folks who are connected to the Black Tornado and getting them recognition as well as those who are not a part of the Medford Sports Hall of Fame already."

The deadline to submit nominations to Sam for the Wall of Fame is next Friday. A committee made up of Sam, Larry Binney, Ralph Burrelle and Jim McAbee has been taking nominations for more than two months.

Sam said he has received 10 nominations in the past two-plus months and estimates at least that many others are in the works.

The nomination form can be downloaded at www.medford.k12.or.us by clicking "North Medford HS," then "Athletics." Forms are also available at Baci's Pizza and Pasta and Joe's Sports Bar and Grill, both on Roberts Road, and at Cascade Athletic Supply on Biddle Road. The list of the 105 who will be grandfathered in is on the back of the form.

The Wall of Fame committee will turn the nominees over to another panel, whose members will remain anonymous, to choose the inductees.

The plan is for five to 12 people or teams to be inducted each year, except years when the Medford Sports Hall of Fame has an induction.

The inductees will be recognized Sept. 19 at halftime of North Medford's home football game against Roseburg.

An induction banquet will follow on Sept. 20 at Rogue Valley County Club. Miles, the Oregon Tech men's basketball coach, will be the master of ceremonies.

Sponsorship opportunities are available as well. Gold sponsorship ($2,000) helps cover costs of plaques to be mounted in the North Medford High gym lobby and includes banner, program and table recognition. Silver sponsors ($1,000) help cover the cost of banquet meals for inductees and includes program and table recognition. Bronze sponsorship ($500) helps cover the cost of the banquet facility and includes program recognition.

A number of high schools in the area have halls or walls of fame or something similar, said Sam.

It's only fitting, he said, that Black Tornado icons, some of whom have "changed the face of athletics," he noted, have their own showcase.

Plaques of each inductee will have their picture and a summary of their contributions.

Among them are Bowerman, who played and coached at Medford High before gaining fame as Oregon's track coach, inventing the waffle-soled running shoe and co-founding Nike with Phil Knight; Fosbury, who revolutionized the high jump with his back-first "flop" technique and won the 1968 Olympic gold medal with a record leap; and Miles, who became only the second coach at a four-year school to win 1,000 games this past winter.

Sam said the committee wanted to "do something that was right and make sure it was done in a way to be sensitive to the Medford Sports Hall of Fame. We didn't want to make it something that was competing with it, but we did want to make sure we were recognizing our Black Tornado folks in our school."

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email ttrower@mailtribune.com