PREFONTAINE ATHLETIC AWARD SPEECH
Presented by Mac McIntosh
Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet
"While it takes a family to raise a child, a village honors a child’s achievements and that recognition becomes part of its identity."
The Athlete of the Year award honors historic achievements of 1969 Marshfield High School graduate Steve Prefontaine, America’s greatest and most decorated middle distance runner. His legacy helps identify our community, reflects our culture and continues to inspire personal pursuits of excellence worldwide.
In a larger sense, the award celebrates the Prefontaine family – his parents Ray and Elfreida and sister Linda. A carpenter and a seamstress, they taught working class values to their children, part of a generation of families in logging, millworking, fishing, and longshoring that raised 3, 4, and 5 children, filling the classrooms and athletic teams at North Bend and Marshfield in the decades when lumber products defined our culture.
Our award tonight is shared by two meritorious high school athletes, who also share the support of strong, nuclear families.
Wyatt Cunningham is a four-time individual state champion in track and field - the first ever to earn gold in a sprint event for North Bend - and last year led the Bulldogs to the first track and field state championship team title in school history. His dad Kevin is a firefighter for the city of Coos Bay and his high jump coach.
Shaylen Crook is the first female cross country state champion in Marshfield history and earned another individual championship at the 2014 state track and field meet. Her dad is a medical technician at Bay Area Hospital and was her strength coach throughout high school.
Wyatt maintained a high school grade point average above 3.5; Shaylen was salutatorian of the Marshfield class of 2014; in their first term of college Wyatt earned a 3.7 and Shaylen a 4.0. Both are active peer leaders, respected universally by classmates, coaches, competitors, boosters, and faculty.
Both earned athletic scholarships and compete collegiately. Wyatt is a high jumper also training as a multi-event athlete at Southern Oregon and Shaylen is a two-sport athlete in cross country and track for the University of Utah. She scored for the Utes at this year’s Pac-12 cross country championships and is competing indoors this season.
Their names will be added to a perpetual trophy that honors local high school athletes since 1983 who went on to become NCAA champions, All-Americans, conference and school record holders and the current coach of the University of Oregon football team.
Whether it’s ESPN or the New York Times, when national media describes the success of 1991 winner Mark Helfrich, two indelible themes emerge: he is a product of and reflects the culture of a small town and he continues to be inspired by the legacy of Steve Prefontaine.
Tonight we celebrate Wyatt and Shaylen’s illustrious high school careers and recognize their family’s contributions to that success. Please offer your congratulations, as a village, to Wyatt Cunningham and through her dad Alan, to Shaylen Crook - the 2014 Prefontaine co-Athletes of the Year.”