Phoenix Union High School District held its second-annual Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony and dinner on Dec. 20 at Talking Stick Arena, honoring coaches, athletes and teams from 1950-1969. This year’s event also featured eight special inductees, such as legendary baseball coaches Jim Brock and Martin “Pug” Marich.
Among the 54 inductees were 13 coaches and 34 athletes and a few who both played and coached at PUHSD schools. The program also recognized 70 state championship teams.
This year’s list included four Olympians: North’s Dallas Long, gold medal shot putter, 1960; Central’s Winn Young, bronze medal in diving, 1968; Central’s Marylyn Ramenofsky, swimming, silver medal, 1964; and Central’s Lois Drinkwater, Arizona’s first female Olympic runner, 1968.
Special inductee Jim Brock played and coached at North long before his Mesa Community College and ASU coaching careers. Martin “Pug” Marich earned fame as Phoenix College’s baseball coach, but he began his career at Phoenix Union in 1947, and became the first football and baseball coach at Central High School in 1957.
Other notable names include Central tennis coach Dave Silcox; Alhambra baseball coach Ron Scott; PUHSD athlete and athletic director Moody Jackson; Central basketball player and Valley philanthropist Jimmy Walker; and Alhambra football player Boyd Epley, who is considered the “founder” of strength and conditioning coaching while at Nebraska.
Also in attendance were South Mountain’s Larry Willis, track star and NFL player; North’s Chuck LaBenz, the first sub 4-minute miler for ASU, North’s Jim Brewer, a pole vaulter who held the high school record for nine years; North basketball player Dr. Dennis Dairman, who went on to star at ASU in the sixties; Marv Nevins, who coached at Alhambra for 44 years; and Alhambra football player Steve Matlock, who was accompanied by former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Danny White.
The inaugural event last year honored 44 inductees from as far back as 1913, as well as some “modern era” coaches from 1950-present.
“We had such a terrific response from the sports community after last year’s event, and we had another star-studded lineup for this year,” said Zachary Muñoz, Phoenix Union athletic director. “Phoenix Union has had such a rich and successful tradition of championship teams, players and coaches, that we are still playing catch-up.”
As a commitment to the legacy of athletic excellence in Phoenix Union, a Male and Female Athlete of the Year scholarship was established by the PUHSD Sports Hall of Fame. Aldo Fernandez, Alhambra baseball, and Najiyyah Pack, South Mountain girls basketball, were the first Hall of Fame Scholarship recipients. Both led their teams to state championships last year.
For more information, visit the Phoenix Union Foundation for Education at www.foundation4education.org. Refer to the Central High Alumni Facebook page to comment or message to nominate a former PUHSD outstanding athlete for next year.