Ferrum News

Ferrum College Continues Its Tradition of Memorializing the “Marshall 8”


Ferrum College Continues Its Tradition of Memorializing the “Marshall 8”

The recently completed Hank Norton Athletic Center includes facilities named in memory of eight Ferrum Junior College football team members.

FERRUM, Va. (June 20, 2012) For more than forty years, Ferrum College has honored the memory of the “Marshall 8,” who include seven members of the College’s 1968 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Championship Team, as well as late Marshall University Head Coach Rick Tolley, who previously served at the College as Hank Norton’s assistant football coach.

Along with Coach Tolley, '68 NJCAA National Championship team members Thomas W. Brown, David D. Griffith, Patrick J. Norrell, James R. Patterson, Arthur K. Shannon, Jerry D. Stainback, Jr. and Thomas J. Zborill perished in a November 1970 plane crash that claimed the lives of 75 people including the Marshall University football team, coaching staff and fans.

“That terrible tragedy will always be a part of all of the guys on the '68 team. We went through a lot in '68 and ended up undefeated National Champions,” said '68 team member John Cougill '69. “We were a very close team. The crash was a devastating time for all of us.”

Ferrum College established a number of significant reminders of the “Marshall 8”, including The Big Green Award, which since fall 1971 has been given annually to a senior Panther football player who best demonstrates the qualities of courage, hustle, and desire as a role model for his fellow teammates. The College also memorialized the “Marshall 8” by naming its weight room The Big Green Room. In 1994, the College inducted the “Marshall 8” into its Alumni Sports Hall of Fame Inaugural Class.

With the opening of the new Hank Norton Athletic Center, the College continues its tradition of memorializing the “Marshall 8.” Formerly located in Swartz Gymnasium, The Big Green Room now makes its home in the Norton Center and a plaque recognizing the “Marshall 8” hangs in the Norton Center’s Hall of Fame.

"I was given the honor and challenge to chair the Ferrum College Sports Hall of Fame in its inaugural year,” said Dan Danko '69, who was also a member of the '68 National Championship team.  “The Hank Norton Athletic Center represents a place to honor the memory of the ‘Marshall 8’ and all athletes who have excelled in hard work and dedication while at Ferrum College."

In addition to these well-established remembrances, the Norton Center’s football locker room is named after Coach Tolley and his portrait adorns the locker room’s entrance wall.  Also, a special plaque hangs in the head football coach’s office that includes a photo of each of the “Marshall 8” as well as their '68 National Championship rings.

“Dedicating the head football coach’s office to the ‘Marshal 8’ was a great way to memorialize our teammates. It has helped many of us come to terms with the loss we have felt for so many years,” said Cougill, who together with fellow '68 teammate Howard Smith '69 hit upon the idea of naming the head coach’s office as they discussed ways to permanently remember their lost teammates and friends on the College campus and help build the Norton Center.

“The ‘Marshall 8’ are a significant part of Ferrum College’s football history,” said Head Football Coach Dave Harper, who is the first to occupy the newly dedicated office. “It is important to remember the role they played at the College and to maintain their legacy for both our new recruits and our returning players this fall and in the years to come.”

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About Ferrum College: Ferrum College is a four-year, private, co-educational, liberal arts college related to the United Methodist Church. Ferrum offers a choice of nationally recognized bachelor's degree programs at a cost well below the national average for private colleges.