Miles to speak at SOSC banquet
Legendary men's basketball coach and Medford native Danny Miles will be the keynote speaker at the Southern Oregon Sports Commission's annual awards banquet.
During the ceremony, the SOSC's top male and female athletes of 2015 will be announced, a sports advocate will be recognized and the Mail Tribune's Top 10 sports stories of 2015 will be showcased.
Five male and five female athletes were chosen finalists, and their accomplishments have been chronicled on the SOSC Facebook page.
The banquet is Feb. 11 at the Santo Community Center. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and the program starts at 5. Tickets cost $30 and cover entry and catered hors d'oeuvres. They are available at southernoregonsports.com, through Travel Medford (541-608-8516), which manages the commission, and can be purchased at the door.
The Santo Community Center is at 701 N. Columbus Ave.
The SOSC is an arm of the Chamber of Medford/Jackson County designed to enhance sports tourism in the region. It's made up of local sports and business leaders.
The awards banquet, the commission's primary fundraiser, attracted about 250 attendees to its inaugural event last year and raised more than $10,000.
“It was very successful,” said commission chairman Dave Preszler. “We had a good turnout and good feedback about the event. It really gave us a good platform to showcase local sports stories and athletes.
“It further built the foundation of getting out and promoting sports tourism.”
The five male athlete finalists are former North Medford baseball player Seth Brown, former Crater and Southern Oregon University wrestler Brock Gutches, former Eagle Point football player Tyrone Holmes, South Medford soccer player Kyle Owings and Crater cross country runner Walter Vail.
The women's finalists are St. Mary's soccer player Mary Beth Barnum, North Medford track athlete Halley Folsom, former Phoenix distance runner Marci Klimek Gage, Ashland skier/cyclist Clara Honsinger and Southern Oregon University track athlete Amelia Maguin.
The sports advocate winner will be announced at the banquet.
Miles returns to the area where he was a multisport star at Medford High and Southern Oregon University.
He is in his 45th and final season as the head coach at Oregon Tech and ranks second in history among men’s four-year college coaches in all-time victories.
Going into Saturday's games, Miles' career mark was 1,034-433. Only McKendree University's Harry Statham (1,098-474) has more wins. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski is one game back at 1,033-316. Herb Magee of Philadelphia University is the only other coach with more than 1,000 wins (1,026).
Miles, who brings OIT to face Southern Oregon on Feb. 9 in Ashland, has won an NAIA co-best three national titles — each of them, coincidentally, in a leap year (2004, '08, '12) — and has taken 17 teams to the national tournament.
He was named national coach of the year in 2004 and '08, and last year received the John Wooden Keys to Life Award from Athletes in Action.
“Legendary,” said Preszler. “I think we can use that word with Danny pretty easily.”
This go-round, as with last year, the SOSC had no trouble finding top-flight athletes to honor.
“I'm really pleased to see that, not only do we have strong candidates who have achieved quite a bit,” said Preszler, “but we have quite a bit of diversity among the sports.
“That's one of the things we feel good about, is to be able to look at school-based sports and club-based sports and endurance events, try to bring all those bridges together to look at where we've been.”
Southern Oregon University, he noted, has had tremendous success of late, and various high schools continue to build on strong traditions.
“It's kind of fun to look at what everybody's achieved and see who we should honor as our top male and female athletes of the year,” said Preszler.
The sports advocate “is kind of our lifetime achievement award,” he said, those who have given of themselves — usually both in time and financially.
“We're trying to really look for people who have made things happen over the years,” he said.
Last year's honorees were Jerry and Zellah Swartsley, who founded and operated for 35 years the Pear Blossom Run.
The Mail Tribune's top 10 stories will be recognized through video montages. The stories, which were announced at the end of the year, were headed by Southern Oregon University football for the second straight year, followed respectively by the Medford Mustangs and SOU wrestler Brock Gutches in a close race for second.
The others in the top five were prep football and prep golf.
The second five were, in order, the Oklahoma City Thunder's Kyle Singler, the Medford Linebackers Club, SOU runner Amelia Maguin, Montana football player Tyrone Holmes and Lewis-Clark State baseball player Seth Brown.
In its effort to enhance tourism through sports, the SOSC has two main projects on its radar.
It has gotten behind the buildup of Prescott Park, recently attending a planning meeting and voicing support to forge trails throughout the area on Roxy Ann Peak in east Medford.
The commission is also planning a symposium later this year to address the need for game officials in a variety of sports and improve the sometimes contentious atmosphere at events.
“That’s one of the more tangible things in the short run we see,” said Preszler. “That’s a big issue that comes up a lot.”
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email email@example.com