PREFONTAINE ATHLETIC AWARD SPEECH
Presented by Mac McIntosh
Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet
January 24, 2014
Before driving his 1956 Chevy to the University of Oregon in the summer of 1969, Steve Prefontaine had competed in Europe for the US national team, set a national high school record in the two mile, earned four individual state championship titles in cross country and track, and led the Pirate boys track and field team to a second-place trophy at the 1968 state championship meet.
Our Prefontaine Memorial Committee Athlete of the Year earned two state championship titles in track and led the Pirate women to a second-place trophy at last year’s state meet. Earlier that year, she’d earned First-Team honors at the volleyball state championship tournament, leading the Lady Pirates to their highest finish since 1976.
Beyond athletic achievement, however, it’s other qualities that distinguish Lauren McGowne from equally talented athletes. I made her co-captain as a junior and senior and in five seasons as head coach, I’ve had no better or more effective student leader. She brings infectious enthusiasm, mature insight, and empathy to leadership, the same qualities that resonate in every conversation with anyone who ever had the chance to train or compete with Steve Prefontaine.
These qualities led the editorial board of the Eugene Register Guard to name her the 2013 Prep Athlete of the Year, only the fourth from Marshfield of 76 athletes so named in the award’s 38-year history.
As a freshman, Pre won the first of 4-straight NCAA championships in the 5000, early benchmarks in a 6-year career that included American records in 7 different distance races and competition in the 1972 Olympics.
Lauren entered Southern Oregon University this fall as a recruited two-sport athlete. In her first season of collegiate volleyball, she won the starting spot at setter, earned First-Team All-Region honors and was named the Cascade Collegiate Conference Freshman of the Year. She’s training currently to compete as a 7-event heptathlete in track for the Raiders this spring.
In recognizing Lauren’s achievements, we refresh our own memories of the Bay Area’s and America’s greatest, middle distance runner. As a community, we share and are partially defined by that heritage. On behalf of that community, it’s a distinct privilege to recognize this year’s Prefontaine Memorial Committee Athlete of the Year for living with integrity, competing with class and adding to that legacy.
Congratulations and well done, Lauren McGowne.