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Ashland, Talent coach remembered as ‘calm and collected’ on the field

Marius Boone, who coached track, basketball and football, died recently

For all the memories that Talent Middle School coach Misty Hutsell has of her former colleague Marius Boone, the most vivid one is when he kicked her out of team practice in the gym.

Hutsell had coached the boys and girls basketball teams — on which her sons played — before Boone took the reins. As Hutsell learned, the coaching transition was quite sudden.

“He comes over to me, he goes, ‘Misty, what are you doing?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m watching the kids’ practice,’” Hutsell said. “He goes, ‘No, it’s my team now. I’ve got it. You go.’”

Once the realization of what had just happened sank in, Hutsell realized it was a moment emblematic of who Boone was.

“He was right. It was his team 100%, and I needed to back off,” Hutsell said. “He knew when to push and when to pull, and he was just a remarkable man.”

Boone passed away recently, and funeral services were held last weekend. The week after saw a trail of tributes to the former coach who worked for Phoenix-Talent and Ashland schools over several decades, including Phoenix High, Talent Middle, Ashland High and Ashland Middle.

Depending on the needs of the school, he coached track and field, football and basketball.

“It was great to see the kids blossom under his command,” Hutsell said.

She described Boone’s coaching style as “calm and collected.”

“He was always on point with the mission firsthand, and you never heard him raise his voice at anybody,” said Hutsell. “Even off the court, that man was always calm and collected.”

She said Boone was invested in each student athletes’ development and “right there teaching them mechanics” of both running and basketball.

“With the middle-school level, it’s not too big a competition; more individual growth of your players. I think that’s really what his mindset was, just individual growth and making sure that each day is a new day to learn something,” Hutsell said. “I don’t think he got too caught up in the competition.”

Karin Pasche, office manager and co-athletic director of Ashland Middle School, did not interact with Boone on the field but was aware of the impact he had on the students and other school coaches.

“(In) the middle-school years, the emphasis is on development — as much or more than the winning,” Pasche said. “You don’t win without development. The lessons learned through coaching and preparing are also preparations for life and not just about a game.”

John Cornet, the current head coach of cross-country and track and field at PHS, knew what Boone was like coaching the upper grade levels. According to Cornet’s Facebook post memorializing Boone, coaching was never entirely about winning.

“He was less concerned about winning and more preoccupied with the journey to any achievement; that is, in preparation for and in making sure any wins were indeed earned through intentionality and purposeful training,” Cornet wrote. “He saw track & field as a way to create opportunities for young people, to open their eyes to a world beyond their immediate surroundings, and to teach life lessons like sportsmanship, respect and grit.”

Sydney Amundsen, who is the social services director at Rogue Valley Manor, graduated from PHS in 2015. She was a track and field athlete, but also played volleyball.

“(He was) 100% business, but he had fun with it,” Amundsen said, referring to Boone. “He would tell me — because running is not always a fun sport — ‘Syd, you have to find the fun in it, or it’s not going to be a good sport for you.’”

Boone wanted to see each student athlete do the best that they were physically capable of doing.

“He was very universal as a coach,” Amundsen said. “He would make it fun, but he would hold you accountable to your sport. He helped me become a good leader. You don’t give half effort; you give all of your effort.”

She later graduated from Multnomah University in Portland with a bachelor’s degree in business and organizational psychology.

Amunsen spoke last weekend at Boone’s funeral, sharing the pulpit with a fellow track athlete from PHS.

“We went up together to represent part of his sports teams that he had coached here in Oregon, since he is from Oakland, California,” she said. “(We were) honoring him and his family, since they weren’t here for the 30 years he was. He impacted many people here.”

Hutsell recalled how much Boone liked to talk about sports.

“You saw his true personality … he just lit up,” Hutsell said. “He’d start talking quicker, and he’d have so much information he’d want to talk about. He’d stand a little bit taller.”

Reach reporter Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or kopsahl@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.