Cleveland legends return for Hall of Fame induction


A packed house was on hand for the boys basketball Senior Night against Lincoln on Tuesday Feb. 24.  The crowd attended not only to cheer on current Warrior athletes, but also honor great Warrior athletes of the past during the 23rd induction ceremony of the CHS Mel Krause Hall of Fame.

The school hall of fame, which is named in honor of the great Commerce athlete and legendary head coach of the Cleveland baseball program during the ‘60s and ‘70s, sets forth to honor outstanding athletes, teams, or coaches who spent their careers at Commerce (1917-1948) or Cleveland High.

“It means a great deal and adds to the uniqueness of Cleveland that we celebrate our athletic greats like this. There are only two (PIL) high schools that have a hall of fame,” said coordinator and announcer of the ceremony Jan Watt.

The event is sponsored by the Booster club and Alumni Association and every year the tradition takes place during a boys basketball home game in February. The recipients or their family members are recognized during a pregame ceremony and then awarded a plaque that will forever hang in the main hallway of the school. This year, Watt invited into the hall two new additions. First, Ron Eilers, record-setting football coach during the 1983 to 1991 seasons earned his plaque and applause. Then the 1952 boys basketball team (third in state) were saluted.

As well as the two Mel Krause inductees, Watt also announced the recipient of the Award of Merit, Darlene Maddox. The award is given to people who were not Cleveland athletes, but have contributed in significant ways to the school and athletic department. Maddox won for various works she has graciously performed since 2006 and her plaque will join previous winners in the Alumni Conference Room in room 224.

“It’s (the Hall of Fame) another way of keeping this school’s athletic tradition alive. I mean how many kids knew we ever took third in state? Nobody. That’s one of the reasons you do it, so you guys (students) have a sense of what we have done,” said Watt.

If students did not know what Cleveland athletics had done in the past, the glowing tributes to these inductees helped paint a better picture of excellence.

Ron Eilers, who traveled all the way from Arizona to make it to the event, gave Cleveland football its first winning season in 11 years as a first-year head coach. He followed that up by earning the team its first state playoff bid in school history and earning himself PIL “Coach of the Year” in the process. In the rest of his tenure, Eilers delivered Cleveland fans two more state playoff teams.

Not only did the 1952 team win third in state, but they also were co-champs of the PIL on their way to an impressive 24-3 record. Nicknamed by the Oregonian the “Galloping Ghosts” because of their blazing quickness and pale white uniforms, the team averaged 60 points a contest in the pre-three-point-line era. Although eight of the team’s members and its coach, J.O. Norton, passed away, family members of three players and Norton’s daughter made it to accept the honor in their behalf. Jerry Ross, first team All-State from the team, and Jack Viskov, second-team All-City were there in person.

“The student body doesn’t appreciate the significance of this. It is such a memorable event for the people who are inducted,” assessed Watt.

Her statement was evident by the crowds of people that showed up to celebrate and support the Mel Krause Hall of Fame’s newest members.

The current athletes of Cleveland may have lost by one point that night, but the athletes of the past earned a big victory.