Flagstaff Sports Foundation

Promoting sports in our community

2011 Flagstaff Hall of Fame Inductees Biographies 

Gilbert Corona - Born on January 31, 1921, Gilbert “GC” Corona passed away in Flagstaff in 2000. Gilbert came to Flagstaff in 1939 to attend Arizona State Teacher’s College (now NAU), and after a very distinguished time in the Air Force as a B26 bomber radio man, he returned to NAU to complete his education. While excelling in academics, Gilbert also played football, basketball and baseball, being honored with the ‘Golden Axe’ upon his graduation.  Gilbert began his teaching and coaching career at Seligman High School, and later moved on to Flagstaff High School in 1954.  While at FHS he taught multiple courses while as the head baseball and       assistant football coach.  Gilbert was also involved with the AZ Coaches Association, bringing the state all-star football and basketball games to Flagstaff.  Gilbert coached at FHS for approximately 20 years, retiring in 1984 after nearly 30 years of teaching and coaching.


Bill Epperson - Born on June 12, 1939, Bill attended and was an All-State Athlete who competed in football, baseball, and basketball at Valley Union High School (Elfrida).  Bill began his collegiate career in 1957 at the University of Arizona, but later transferred to Arizona State College (now NAU) and played running back, flanker and defensive back on the Lumberjack football team.  After graduating, Bill began his teaching and coaching career at Flagstaff High School, working with the wrestling and football teams.  In 1967 when Coconino High School opened, Bill transferred his skills to the new school as head coach for both the wresting and football teams.  During his 13 years coaching at CHS, his football teams won three state football championships, making him one of the most successful high school football coaches in Flagstaff and Arizona. In 1974 he was recognized as     Arizona Coach of the Year and has since been named one of the top 25 Arizona High School Football Coaches in the 20th Century.


Dr. L. George Hershey - After graduation from Bisbee High School, George Hershey attended Arizona State College in Tempe (now ASU) on a four-year track athletic scholarship and received a B.A. in Education. After serving three and a half years with the Marine Corps, Hershey later graduated as a Doctor of Osteopathy from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.  He is presently the Head Team Physician for the Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks. Dr. Hershey was very influential in getting physicians to do the participation physicals at no cost for schools and instrumental in keeping student athletes physically fit while competing and, if injured, back to playing as soon as safely possible.  He has not only served as team physician for local athletic programs, but national teams such as the USA Basketball Team, National Junior Women’s Basketball Team, the Pan American Games, and Olympic Festival. Dr. Hershey is a member of the Northern Arizona University Athletic Hall of Fame and still very active in the community.



John Ply - Born August 9, 1923 in Crockett, Texas, John played football, basketball and ran track at Rio Hondo High School.  He attended Howard Payne University while competing in the same three sports, and graduated in 1946 after some time serving in the US Navy during World War II.  John spent seven years at Gallup High School in New Mexico teaching and coaching.  He then began his memorable coaching career at Flagstaff High School in 1957, becoming a legend as a great football coach.  He was named the Arizona Coach of the Year in 1960, was the 1961 All Star Coach for the state of Arizona Football team, and is in the Flagstaff High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Coach Ply retired in 1988 and is still in contact with many of his players from the 1940’s to 1980’s.


2000 to 2004 Flagstaff High School Lady Eagles Cross Country Treams - The Flagstaff High School 2000 Cross Country Team was the first of five teams to win a State Championship.  These five teams were led by coaches Sharon Falor, Trina Painter, and Carrie Mitchell Jenkins.  The 2000 team consisted of only two seniors, one sophomore and four freshmen.  This team bonded quickly to win the City Championship at Buffalo Park, Regional Championship at Mingus, and 4A State Championship in Gilbert.
In the fall of 2001, the Eagles filled the vacancies left by their two graduating seniors, and once again made winning the State title their goal.  No longer the “under-dogs,” workouts became a littler harder, runs a little longer, and the intensity a little higher.  Again, the Lady Eagles pulled off a triple crown: City Champions, Regional
Champions and 4A State Champions.
The 2002 FHS cross country team may have been the most  competitive, with five of the seven team members from this squad moving on to run at the collegiate level.  At the state meet, all seven FHS runners ran under 20:10 for a 5K and placed in the top 24.   After this memorable season, the Lady Eagles were ranked #1 in the state of Arizona when compared against all 1A, 2A, 3A, and 5A schools.
In 2003 the Lady Eagles were on a legendary quest for “Four in a Row.” The once “fabulous freshman” were now seniors and looking to fill three vacant varsity spots, and did so with two freshman and a sophomore.  The four seniors finished in the top 10 at the state meet and the Lady Eagles pulled off their fourth 4A State Championship by a mere 14 point margin.
The 2004 season for the Eagles was a very special season. Coach Falor retired and Trina Painter took over as head coach.  Only three varsity runners were returning from the previous season.  For a fifth year in a row, the Lady Eagles won the 4A State Championship, this year by a margin of 33 points.

Dr. Gene Hughes - spent over 40 years of his career dedicated to the development of higher education, which included teaching at Kansas State University, Chadron State College, George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, and Northern Arizona University. Hughes was heavily involved in the growth of athletics at NAU, in particular the women's sports program.   Under his leadership, NAU women’s athletics became a member of the NCAA Big Sky (Mountain West) Conference and now compete regularly for national recognition. Hughes was also instrumental in bringing the Arizona Cardinals to the NAU Campus in 1988 for their annual training camp, where they have continued to train 23 of the past 24 years. In addition, Hughes created awareness of Flagstaff as a high altitude training location, which later on became the basis for the city to be recognized as an Olympic Training Site.

Doug Wall - loved sports growing up. He played baseball, basketball and football during his youth. A football and volleyball player in college, Doug also worked on a youth physical fitness camp assisting future athletes with training. After college, Doug continued his love of sports by coaching an AAU swim team. Some of the swimmers that Doug coached went on to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Swimming team. Based on his contributions to swimmers in northern Arizona, the new aquatic facility at NAU, which opened in November 1983, was named after Doug.  The Douglas J. Wall Aquatic Center opened just in time to house the inaugural NAU women's swimming and diving team. Twenty-five years later, the facility is still considered a world-class high-altitude training facility for swimming and diving teams worldwide.



2010 Flagstaff Hall of Fame Inductees Biographies

Doug Allan - For more than two decades Doug Allan has influenced hundreds of aspiring local hockey players and brought national recognition to the Northern Arizona University hockey program. Doug coached the highly successful Ice Jacks for several years, as well as teams for the Flagstaff Youth Hockey Association. Former players attribute Doug with not only being a wonderful coach, but a mentor as well, teaching important life skills such as dedication, hard work, respect, and leadership.     

David Carder - David was an All-Conference football player his junior and senior year, while playing for Flagstaff High School. He was Player of the Year his senior year and named All-American on several national lists.  David received a full scholarship to Stanford University where he lettered all four years. He was a starter for the Stanford Cardinal defensive line for three years. David is currently a member of the Phoenix Diocesan School Board and the Executive Council of the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Phoenix.  

John Haeger - Northern Arizona University President, John Haeger, has guided the university to new heights across the state, answering the call to make higher education accessible to all Arizonans. He has been steadfast in his support of intercollegiate athletics, praising student-athletes’ on- and off-field successes and their community service. He played a vital role in solidifying the recent agreement that will bring the Arizona Cardinals to Flagstaff for the next three years.

Mike Nesbitt - Mike was a professor in exercise science at Northern Arizona University and the head athletic trainer for the Lumberjacks from 1970 until his retirement in 2006. He was instrumental in developing a bachelor's degree in athletic training at NAU as well as the Athletic Training Endowment, which was renamed in his honor in 2006. Mike is a member of the NAU Athletics Hall of Fame and was inducted into the National Athletic Trainers Hall of Fame in 1994. Nesbitt is a charter member of the sports medicine section of the Arizona Medical Association and helped launch the Arizona Athletic Trainers Association.

Ray Smith - Ray was a member of Coconino High School’s Class of 1975. He was a three-sport All-State athlete his sophomore, junior, and senior years, and voted Athlete of the Year twice.  Ray is a graduate of Northern Arizona University where he was a four-year starter for the football team and a member of 1978 Big Sky championship team. Ray became a teacher, and taught at Kingman High School for 25 years and was coach of its football team for 20 years.