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Talawanda sports complex to be named in honor of coach, principal

The name Marvin Wilhelm has long been associated with Talawanda High School.

The titles principal, teacher, assistant, substitute, volunteer, football clock operator, fan and others come to mind at the mention of his name, but one title is the first that is most often associated with him — coach.

Plans are currently in the works to honor Wilhelm by naming the sports complex at the high school in his honor.

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Former Talawanda football coach, Bill Bowers, told school board members during a previous meeting that Wilhelm began his “long and dedicated service” in 1958.

“Marvin has a gift. He loved working with students and that extended to all ages of students. There was never a greater booster for extracurricular activities. He guided and mentored girls and boys in ways we can never appreciate,” Bowers said.

He noted Wilhelm served as head basketball coach and then succeeded John Trump as football coach in 1961. He also started the school’s wrestling program.

In addition to his years as principal at the high school, he also served as principal at the middle school, helping to open that building and bridge the gap from the district’s Stewart Junior High School, according to Bowers.

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Talawanda High School Principal Tom York was a member of the school’s football team when Wilhelm was a volunteer coach.

“Beyond my parents, there is not another person who has had the influence on me Marvin has,” York said.

“He has influenced the lives of more than just football players,” the principal said. “My first contact with Coach Wilhelm was when I was in middle school. When I was in the fifth and sixth grades, Coach had an intramural-type program for kids on Saturday. We would choose up sides and play three games across the field.”

A marker made from a large rock as well as a sign in the grass area adjacent to the football field and the fieldhouse will still need to get final official approval from the board of education for the naming.

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“Coach is just a great person. I can’t wait to get the bid (for the naming project) and do some serious planning. The goal is to do it before a home football game. We want to get the word out,” York said.

A committee of volunteers are working to purchase the sign and marker without any district money being used, according to York.

“I know this will grow once more people are involved, once we have the plan and the actual cost,” York said. “Coach Wilhelm touched so many lives in this community I know more will want to be involved.”

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