MARQUETTE, Mich.—High school sports are a staple of life in communities throughout the Upper Peninsula. They give young people an opportunity to compete and also serve as a source of pride, camaraderie and entertainment for local residents. Some of the stories and legends from the past 130 years of U.P. high school athletics will be on display in a new exhibit titled “U.P. Power! High School Sports in Upper Michigan.”
An opening reception, which will be attended by a number of U.P. sports legends, will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, in the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center at Northern Michigan University, located in 105 Cohodas Hall.
The exhibit will feature stories and artifacts related to the greatest teams, players and coaches in U.P. high school sports history. Photographs, trophies, uniforms and other memorabilia are on loan from high schools, historical societies and individuals. An interactive computer station at the exhibit will provide statistics for each team sport for boys and girls.
The Beaumier Center put together a committee of sports writers, historians and former athletes from throughout the Upper Peninsula to form the basic framework of the exhibit, develop the outline and identify players and teams that would be featured. They first met in January. Members of the committee include Craig Remsburg from the Marquette Mining Journal, Denny Grall from the Escanaba Daily Press, Rob Roos from the Sault Ste. Marie Evening News and many at-large members including Rod Guizetti, Larry Rubick, Dave Hallgren, Dave Lahtinen, Tom West, Pat Gallinagh, Tom Peters and Barb Patrick.
The exhibition is divided into sections ranging from dynasties and legendary games to greatest teams and performances. Within each will be teams, players and coaches who contributed to the feat. Here are a few examples of featured stories: the Chassell boys’ basketball team that was undefeated from 1956-58, won three state titles and set a winning streak record that still stands; John Payment, the Brimley high school high jumper who broke the all-state, all-class record in May 1989 with his jump of 7’ 1” at the U.P. finals in Marquette; and Christy (Salonen) Provost, who from 1993-96 won four straight Giant Slalom state titles (3 all-class, 1 Class B) and one slalom title—the only skier ever to do that in state competition.
The title for the exhibit comes from a popular chant of U.P. high school teams and their fans when they go to downstate Michigan for state tournaments. No one is sure precisely when it originated, but it became a rallying cry for U.P. teams after the 1975 State Football championships, when both Ishpeming and Crystal Falls-Forest Park won titles on the same day. It is considered a watershed moment for U.P. football because, for more than 50 years, U.P. teams never got to play the best teams from the Lower Peninsula. Ishpeming ended Hudson’s record-setting winning streak in the Class C final and CFFP trounced Flint Holy Rosary 50-0.
The “U.P. Power” exhibit will be on display at the Beaumier Center through March 30, 2013.