Marianne Mills with her Hall of Fame plaques. Part of one plaque is hidden. Click on photo --- taken by Wildcatville in April 2016 at the Linfield tennis venue -- to see uncropped version.
Is there ever a second Marianne Mills, Linfield Class of 1972, hasn’t been busy? Yes, but only when she sleeps!
A member of the Oregon Athletic Director’s Association and Amity, Ore., High School Athletic Halls of Fame – inducted April 18, 2015, and Jan. 30, 2016, respectively – she has had an extraordinary life related to sports and service. She’s retired now, but still busy.
Below is a Question & Answer section based on information related to her induction into the Amity “Hall.” It has been rewritten and expanded. Also below is a story about Marianne from the McMinnville News-Register. Together, they give a view of the length and breadth of Marianne’s accomplishments.
Detail your family tree as it relates to McMinnville and Linfield.
My grandparents were Marguerite Goffrier Christensen and Merlin Christensen.
My grandmother was a McMinnville High School graduate and attended Linfield (then McMinnville College) 1921-1922. That was the academic year when McMinnville College became Linfield College.
My grandparents’ farm was in the Bellevue area, about eight miles from McMinnville.
My mom, Lois Christensen Mills, grew up on the farm. She graduated from McMinnville High School in 1945 and from Linfield in 1948.
After I graduated from Linfield in 1972, my sisters, Joyce Mills Bottemiller and Jean Mills Morgan, followed. They both graduated in 1978.
My sons, Gregg and Jeff Hendricks are McMinnville grads. Gregg graduated from PSU. They are married and both live in McMinnville with their families. My daughter-in-law, Charlotte, is also a Linfield grad.
From which high school did you graduate?
In 1968 from Waldport High School in Lincoln County on the Oregon coast.
What was your sports involvement as a student at Waldport High School?
I competed in volleyball and track, the only two sports Waldport High offered for girls at the time. In track, I was a not particularly great “thrower.” But, my real love was volleyball. When another sophomore classmate and I were named to the varsity team it was a “big deal.” The Waldport High volleyball teams were Lincoln County champions for years and years.
As much as I loved volleyball, I loved basketball even more. We played a lot of basketball in PE class and my PE teacher and I were invariably matched against each other when we played. We also had some basketball “play days” with Mapleton and other schools.
I was in GAA/Girls’ Athletic Assn. and was my school GAA president. As president, I was attended the state GAA convention at McMinnville High School. Pam Brixey of McMinnville was state president, I believe. Margaret Kopf, a member of the McMinnville High Sports Hall of Fame, was legendary for her 40 years of service coaching girls’ sports at McMinnville High, She was the McMinnville GAA advisor. Margaret was my mom’s PE teacher at McMinnville High.
An indication of my interest in other sports was in high school when I listened on the radio to play-by-play Portland Beavers baseball and Portland Buckaroos hockey
When did you earn your college degrees?
Linfield: B.S., 1972, and M.Ed., 1975. Additional studies OCE (now Western Oregon University) and Portland State University (counseling and administrative licensure)
Why did you and your sisters pick Linfield for college?
Linfield is “in the family.” In addition to my grandmother and mother’s connections, several extended relatives went to Linfield, too. My parents told me I could go to Linfield or OSU. I sort of wanted to go to the University of Oregon. But, there was no way that was going to happen. I visited Linfield one weekend and really fell in love it. Linfield gave me the “East Coast” feel with which I was infatuated at the time. Majoring in PE at Linfield meant I didn’t have to take math nor chemistry to graduate. Funny thinking back on that reasoning. But, whatever the case, Linfield was a good choice for me.
What was your involvement with sports at Linfield?
I played field hockey for Linfield and some basketball. In field hockey we played other schools in the Pacific Northwest, including the University of Victoria and Marylhurst. I remember playing basketball at Willamette in its old gym. Seems to me that Linfield only had swimming and field hockey as intercollegiate women’s sports back then, but I might be wrong. Prof. Kris Olsen of women’s PE and sports saw me hitting a tennis ball against a wall one day and asked me to play against some school that was coming, so maybe there was tennis, too. But, I wasn’t much of a tennis player then.
What sports do you enjoy attending/as a fan at Linfield?
As a student I attended most all of the men’s basketball and football games while at Linfield.
These days I enjoy attending most Linfield athletic events. I have season tickets for football and go to women’s basketball and volleyball when it doesn’t conflict with OSU and McMinnville High games, too.
I try to go to Linfield women’s tennis matches, softball and baseball games, too. I’ve been at a lot of Linfield softball the last couple of years because I supervised Linfield student teachers who played, including pitcher Montana McNealy, last year. Nowadays, though, I have some other conflicts: Soccer matches and t-ball games of my granddaughter.
Your grandmother had a connection to Linfield athletics while you were attending the college?
After my grandfather died in 1962, my grandmother provided rooms to many Linfield athletes in her house. For example, basketball players Dan Beeson and Mike Conklin lived with her for two years. Football player/track athlete Tim Arthur lived there as did others. Because of that, my grandmother started going to Linfield home football and basketball games. She got a kick out of Dan and Mike chasing her wire haired terrier, Toby, around her living room. These two big guys and that dog. My grandmother thoroughly enjoyed the “ruckus.”
What were your Amity teaching duties when you worked for the Amity School District, 1972-1986?
The fall after graduating from Linfield in 1972, I started teaching PE/health and social studies in Amity. Through the years, I taught various courses including journalism and math. Working with Betty Imlah, I was involved with the dance team for several years. Also, I was a class advisor and involved with several student organizations. Also, some of my time I was Amity High student counselor position. That got me involved with after high school career guidance for soon to be Amity High grads as well as class scheduling and keeping track of student attendance.
My last school year (1985-1986) in the Amity School District, I worked half time at Amity Middle School as counselor and health teacher.
Where were your coaching accomplishments while at Amity High School?
I was the first coach of the Amity High’s first girls’ basketball team and coached for about five seasons. I was also volleyball coach, perhaps for 10 seasons. In addition, I coached track & field about seven seasons. In basketball we were fairly competitive MOST of the time, though we did endure have a 0-22 win-loss record basketball season. In volleyball in 1974, we placed 3rd in state in volleyball in the 2A division.
Review your accomplishments after Amity.
From Amity School District, I moved to McMinnville High School. Initially I worked in the counseling department. I became the chair of Student Services Dept. (counseling, Special Education, ELL, Life Skills), served on the Site Council and was senior class advisor (planned graduation activities).
I coached McMinnville High girl’s tennis. Having successful teams was a challenge because McMinnville High had just added freshmen and joined the tough in all sports Metro League. So, we were competing with Beaverton, Tigard and other larger schools at the time. We did exceptionally well for not being in a community with tennis clubs or indoor courts. We regularly qualified athletes for the state tennis tournament.
I was proud to be selected to participate in Oregon Women’s Sports Leadership Network program which was providing support for women to get into athletic administration.
I served nine years as athletic director of McMinnville High School. Also, I was president of the Oregon Athletic Director’s Association and was on the association board for four years. And, I also served on the board of directors of the Oregon Women’s Sports Leadership Network
In addition to being sports league president, I was league athletic director of the year and nominee for athletic director of the year at the 6A level. I was league representative to the Oregon Athletic Director’s Association.
I completed my Certified Athletic Administrator certification and was quite involved in efforts to increase professionalism of athletic administration.
I have served on Linfield College’s Athletics Hall of Fame selection committee and currently do the same for McMinnville High School.
Last year, I was selected for the Oregon High School Athletic Director’s Hall of Fame.
After retirement from McMinnville High School, I worked about 10 years (ending in 2015) for Linfield, supervising student teachers. Also I taught teaching seminars several times.
I worked for McMinnville Area Habitat for Humanity for six years, three as executive director and served on the Habitat state board. Currently I’m a McMinnville Library Foundation Board member. I’ve worked on elections for the past six or seven years for the Yamhill County clerk’s office.
I have always been active, busy and engaged with people. “School” is what I know and love in a professional sense. Athletics are my passion. Family is very important. My mom, both sons and families live in McMinnville. I have strong ties in the Amity/McMinnville area with former athletes, students, colleagues, families. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to travel quite a bit in the past 15 years which I love…exploring cultures, seeing those places that we heard about in social studies classes and just doing “new” things.
I grew up on the Oregon coast in Waldport, a small community where my folks, Lois and Roger Mills, owned and operated a hardware store. No longer in Waldport, today our family’s Mills Ace Hardware has two stores in Lincoln City, one each in in Lincoln City’s Taft and Oceanlake sections.
My three siblings and I -- sisters and brother, Ty -- grew up working in the Waldport store. It was probably the best foundation we could have had for developing a work ethic that I hope I have carried with me throughout my professional life. All kinds of lessons are learned in a family business in a small town
Relative to athletics or other active pursuits, I have completed a marathon, done Cycle Oregon, and played in tennis tournaments and enjoy kayaking, walking and pickle ball.
When I became an athletic director at McMinnville High, my mentor there, told me that I needed to learn to play golf or learn to fish because that is where “business” transpired. Haven’t been fishing, but do play a little golf.
Currently, I am pretty much retired, though I enjoy gigs that seem to come my way such as teaching pickle ball during Jan Term at Linfield at present. Also, I volunteer at Memorial Elementary in McMinnville in one of my granddaughter’s classrooms.
Did all the Mills kids (you and your siblings) enjoy sports as much as you?
All my siblings were athletes. My brother, Ty, played basketball in high school and a couple of years for OCE (now WOU), too. My sisters, Jean and Joyce, lettered playing basketball for Linfield in the 1975-1976 season. In high school they also played volleyball and participated in track, each qualifying for state in the javelin
Our dad put asphalt on of our back yard so that we could have about a three-quarter size basketball court. We all appreciated not having such a big yard to mow after that happened! We competed against each other in various ways on that court.
Swimming was fun, too! We would swim in Eckman Lake in Waldport and the old Newport Natatorium at Nye Beach. Eventually, Newport built a new pool where we swam once in a while.
However, we learned to swim in McMinnville under the tutelage of Tye Steinbach (father of Linfield Athletics Hall of Famer Nancy Steinbach Haack), and either Bob Gregson or Dave Kernan. I can’t remember which.
Because our grandparents lived in McMinnville we spent time with them every summer and swimming lessons were part of the deal.
You and your mom are OSU Beavers fans, specifically women’s basketball. Explain how your connection to Oregon State came about?
Since my other option for college was OSU I have always followed the Beavers.
My dad was from Corvallis and my mom from McMinnville. So, that gave me ties to both communities.
At McMinnville High I coached Lisa Macy Baker, now Linfield women’s tennis coach. She went to OSU to play basketball for the Beavers. I went to some of her OSU game in Corvallis.
About OSU women’s basketball, I followed the Beavers closely when Aki Hill coached them, 1978–1995. When I retired I had a little more time to go to some games in Corvallis and went off and on. My mom got “on board” when my game going “buddy,” Marge Clevenger, married Waldo Farnham several years ago. (I was “dumped” by Marge.) My mom said she would go and fell in love with the team, its players and the game. This was a different experience for my mom by going to games in which her children were not playing. Mom and I really feel “attached” to this current group of OSU women’s basketball players. I love their camaraderie and we are so impressed with their teamwork, their academic focus, and just the kind of women they seem to be.
What are you most proud of in your life?
1) How my sons turned out. Something worked. They are both great husbands and fathers and have great work ethics. What more could I want as a mother? And, speaking of a mother, I’m so proud of my mom. My dad would say she was “in charge” at home, but she also worked at the stores pretty much full time. All four of us have lived productive lives so I deem her a success!
2) Generally, “work” has always been fun for me.
(Title IX is a federal legislation included in the Education Amendments 1972 that requires schools that receive federal funds to provide girls and women with equal opportunity to compete in sports.)
I’m proud to have been a part of the development of women’s athletic programs as Title IX came into existence. We have come so far since 1972. Most of the young women I know who have participated in athletics have no idea what it was like “back in the day.” Being part of the foundation of girls and women in sports, that has been an amazing ride!
4) That I have had opportunities to be involved in athletics in a variety of ways, from coaching to administration to being involved at the state level.
5) I’ve think I’ve had a positive impact on the lives of young women. It’s so cool to see former players get their Ph.D.’s, coach at the collegiate level, become doctors, nurses, business owners and community leaders.
==Stopping By: A Sporting Life==
Marianne Mills will be inducted into the Oregon Athletic Directors Hall of Fame
By Starla Pointer, McMinnville News-Register/N-R, April 7, 2015
Sports have always been a big part of Marianne Mills life.
As a teen, she shot hoops with her siblings on the family’s basketball court.
After earning an education degree at Linfield College, she taught P.E. and coached at Amity High School. Later, she moved to McMinnville High School as a coach and counselor.
In the early 1990s, she became one of the first female athletic directors at a large coed high school. She spent nine years in the job.
Now retired from both education and a second career with Habitat for Humanity, she remains a sports fan. She attends Oregon State University women’s basketball games with her mother, and cheers for her granddaughters on the soccer, T-ball and softball fields.
Her family and others will be cheering for her Saturday, April 18, when Mills is admitted to the Oregon Athletic Directors Hall of Fame.
Mills’ late father undoubtedly would be proud of his daughter’s honor. But when she first announced she planned to become a P.E. teacher, he wasn’t all that pleased.
“Leave it to my daughter to pick something that lets her play all day,” he growled.
She could have picked a more “sensible” job in business. After all, she’d grown up in Waldport watching her parents run a hardware store and, later, other businesses.
Her folks weren’t athletic, but they did acknowledge that Mills and her three younger siblings enjoyed sports. Her dad built the home basketball court for them to practice on.
Inspired by her love of sports and the support she received from her high school P.E. teacher, Florence Boydston, Mills entered Linfield as a P.E. and education major. “I though teaching P.E. would be fun,” she said, adding that students learn important lessons about health and movement in P.E. classes.
Being practical, she also went on to earn her credentials in school counseling at Portland State University.
After graduating from Linfield, she was hired at Amity High when she was 21. Since it was a small school, she taught a variety of classes — P.E., of course, but also math, U.S. history, English and journalism, as needed. Later, she was a counselor, as well.
She coached volleyball and track, advised the dance team and started a girls’ basketball program, as well. During those first years, her players had no official uniforms; they wore shorts and T-shirts with numbers formed from masking tape.
The girls were very dedicated, Mills said. In addition to wearing the makeshift uniforms, they had to arrive at 6 a.m. for practice. The gym was reserved for the boys’ basketball team after school.
She is pleased that these days, girls’ sports receive almost as much respect as boys’ sports.
“It’s been interesting to watch the progression,” she said. “We’ve come a long ways. But we still have room to improve.
“Until schools put the money (into women’s sports) they do into men’s sports, it won’t be equal,” she said, adding quickly that she doesn’t want to see men’s programs gutted to equalize things.
After 14 years in Amity, Mills transferred to McMinnville High School as a counselor and tennis coach.
About the same time, the Oregon Women’s Sports Leadership Network began a program to encourage women coaches to seek positions as school administrators or athletic directors.
Mac High assistant principals Carol Whitehead and Mike Hyder urged her to participate in the OWSLN’s leadership courses. And Val Just, the district’s personnel director, encouraged her to make sure she earned her administrative credentials, as well; Mills did so through PSU.
Mac High’s longtime athletic director, Perry Stubberfield, was getting close to retirement. So Mills talked to him about the possibility of becoming his successor.
After she was hired as AD, she and Stubberfield shared the position for a year before he fully retired. Mills found working with him invaluable.
“Perry was a great mentor,” she said. “He’d been around so long. He had so many connections, here and in the leagues.”
Making those connections was critical for the new AD. “Especially as a female,” something many of the more traditional administrators weren’t used to yet, she said.
She also received tips and support from another longtime Yamhill County AD, Lizann Schultz at Dayton, and from women at other large schools, such as Cindy Simmons at Aloha High, Barb Proctor at Tigard and Anna Maria Lopez at St. Mary’s, a girls’ school.
“We all faced some challenges,” Mills said. “I was really fortunate: I never really experienced anyone saying it was a problem that I was a woman.”
In fact, she said with a laugh, her gender may have made a few things easier. Angry coaches may have been a little more polite to her than they would have been to a man.
The women ADs had to prove themselves, she said. They had to show they could listen to coaches, athletes and parents; be fair to everyone; and understand every sport, from football, soccer, volleyball, basketball to track, tennis, cross country, golf, swimming, soccer and wrestling.
“I knew a lot, although I still had a lot to learn,” said Mills, who went on to serve as president and a board member of the state AD Association before retirement.
She noted that she went into the AD job more familiar with sports she had played and coached, and less familiar with some. “I was genuinely interested,” so learned quickly, she said.
All high school sports are important, she said, because they offer students a chance to get involved, make friends, practice teamwork and sportsmanship, and learn specific skills. “They’re something in which kids can see improvement,” she said.
High school athletics can bring the community together, she said, and they can give individual students a reason for staying in school. They’re part of the larger high school experience which also includes the arts and social activities as well as academics.
“Part of my job was to get people to understand the big picture,” said Mills, who also spent her time scheduling, checking eligibility of athletes, budgeting, promoting sportsmanship and attending events.
One of the things Stubberfield advised Mills to do was to network while she herself was engaged in a sport — fishing, maybe, or golf.
She tried the latter during her years as an AD. After retiring in 2002, she continued to play a little, although she said she never progressed past the level of being “very much a weekend amateur.”
Still, she golfs occasionally with her siblings, who are more dedicated to the sport.
Mills remains a supporter of Habitat for Humanity, for which she served as executive director for three years until her second retirement in 2010.
She started at Habitat as volunteer coordinator. She became director after Erin Stephenson left the position, and the job filled a gap in her life.
“After I retired (from school), it just didn’t seem right to be sitting in my living room at 10 in the morning reading a book,” she recalled.
She said she was proud of the work Habitat did during her tenure. She was especially proud of the staff, board and volunteers, and how they worked together to help people with their housing needs.
“We had a great working relationship,” she said. “I think one of my strengths is building relationships with a lot of different people from different walks of life.”
She was drawn to Habitat’s mission, she said, because of her previous work with young people. “I feel strongly that kids have a better chance of being successful adults if they have a ‘home’ to go to, both a physical structure and family,” she said.
Mills decided to retire from Habitat to spend more time with her mother, Lois Christensen Mills, who had returned to her native McMinnville. Daughter and mother do a lot together, including attending those OSU basketball games.
She also spends time with her sons, Jeff Hendricks and Gregg Hendricks, and her four granddaughters, ages 2 to 7. They oldest are already involved with sports, so Grandma spends a lot of time at T-ball, soccer and other games.
In addition to family activities, Mills devotes time to the McMinnville Library Foundation. A believer in libraries, she purchased a patio brick in their fundraiser. Unable to choose just one favorite book, she asked for it to list two of her cherished authors, Mya Angelou and May Sarton.
Mills is active with the McMinnville City Club, as well. She has worked at Excell Fitness, helped the Yamhill County Clerk’s Office with elections, supervised Linfield education students doing their practice teaching and served on the college’s Alumni Council.
And she’s on Mac High’s Hall of Fame selection committee. That means getting together with Stubberfield, Ross Peterson and other former sports colleagues — always a delight, she said.
“They’re such great storytellers. It’s fascinating to listen to them,” she said.
Mills also enjoys running into former students and athletes she coached or worked with as an AD. For instance, Jamie Lewis, owner of Blue Raeven Farmstand, was the setter on her first volleyball team. Becky Fairbanks, with whom she later worked at Habitat, was on her tennis team.
Some of her earliest students now have children and grandkids of their own, she said.
“That’s the really great thing about staying in an area,” she said. “You get to see how your students turned out.”
Photos: Marianne Mills with her two Hall of Fame plaques. Wildcatville photo at the Linfield tennis venue in April 2016.