For the individuals and couples honored as part of Philomath’s Legend Club, one of the characteristics that ties them all together involves going above and beyond for the betterment of local athletics.
Brian and Jackie Thorsness certainly fit that criteria and in a Feb. 15 ceremony during halftime of a boys basketball game, the couple became the 24th and 25th inductees into the club.
The couple reacted with great appreciation for the recognition.
“It was one of those things where you always hear about Philomath being that community of volunteers and you saw a lot of those people that were out there with us and they’re good friends of mine,” Brian said following the induction. “It’s kinda hard to believe that we lived here for 30 years and we were a part of so many organizations — PYAC is another great one — and it’s all about being able to figure out how to structure your time, and you’ve got kids, you’ve got family and that’s what you end up doing. You just make time.”
The Legend Club, established in 2011 by then-AD Steve Bennett, now features 25 honorees with the two latest additions. A selection committee determines inductees based on various criteria, primarily those who provided strong support to Philomath athletics over time through different types of contributions, whether volunteering or financial.
Brian and Jackie Thorsness became the fourth couple to earn the distinction. The first three were Norm and Barb Robinson in 2012, Rex and Ethel Clemens in 2013 and Joe and Pam Malcom in 2014.
The Thorsness’s, who now live in Bend, led the Philomath Booster Club as president and treasurer for 10 years. Among their accomplishments was establishing the Warrior Classic Basketball Tournament, which served as a fundraiser for the local middle school and high school athletic programs.
Jackie said former coach Dave Garvin helped them set up the tournament.
“It was really an opportunity for the middle school teams but also a fundraiser for the high school teams,” Jackie said. “So he (Garvin) helped us because obviously, he has tons of experience. We focused on a small-school tournament because there really weren’t a whole lot of those around. So you could bring in competitive levels and whatnot.”
The tournament, which is no longer in existence, relied on the volunteerism of players, parents and others for a full weekend of games.
“Until the point in time when we started it, we were traveling all around the valley just like every other parent and taking our kids to Newport, or going to Sweet Home, or going to Sisters,” Brian said. “What we tried to do in this particular case was to try to make a connection between the middle school and high school, so the varsity kids helped out at the tournament. The varsity kids got to meet the middle school kids and that was part of our madness, too.”
During their time with the Booster Club, Brian and Jackie also were instrumental in starting the Monte Carlo Night fundraiser. They also helped with the longstanding Warrior Golf Scramble for years.
Brian spent several years as a volunteer coach for middle school teams and also served on the Philomath Youth Activities Club board of directors and the Philomath School District’s bond oversight committee with a focus on renovating and improving school facilities.
Brian enjoyed his years coaching.
“You watch some of these kids, they start out in middle school and then you watch them go on into high school,” he said. “David Sturner, he played in college and he played professionally; he’s a great story that started right here in Philomath.”
Sturner, who is now an assistant coach with the boys basketball program, played several years overseas until just last year.
“Back then, it was one of those things where you know the kid — I call him a kid because he played when he was in the fifth grade for me — who’d get knocked down and he'd get right back up. He was a kid with an amazing heart,” Brian remembered about Sturner.
Jackie spent many years volunteering as a 4-H leader, helped with senior all-night parties and served as Philomath High’s scholarship coordinator. The couple also hosted two full-year exchange students from Egypt and Bolivia.
“There’s always a need for people to do stuff and it would always make you feel good to just be able to fill whatever need there was, to be able to help the kids,” Jackie said when asked what her takeaway was from those experiences.
The couple attended game night with their three children — Kelly, Kyle and Kayla — all PHS graduates along with two grandchildren.