Outlaw Hall of Fame inducts class of 2023
Last updated 11/14/2023 at 12:36pm
The Outlaw Hall of Fame (HOF) inducted six individuals and one community group at the annual ceremony held at Sisters High School (SHS) on Sunday afternoon, November 12.
Categories for recognition include athletes, alumni, coaches, special contributors, and teams or organizations. The Outlaw Hall of Fame is designed to honor those who have contributed to the rich heritage and traditions of the Sisters School District and in the world at large.
"Many hall of fame programs focus primarily on athletics, but from the outset the Outlaw Hall of Fame has sought to take a broader view of accomplishments and contributions," said Dennis Dempsey, who serves on the Hall of Fame board and acted as emcee for the ceremony.
The HOF class of 2023 featured two SHS graduates who have gone on to notable careers as medical doctors. Dr. Amber Leis and Dr. Judah Slavkovsky, who grew up across the street from each other as young children, served as guest speakers for the event.
The pair acknowledged the care, support, and opportunities provided by their families, the community, and the schools during their formative years that helped launch them into higher education and eventually medical school.
Slavkovsky, a 1999 SHS grad, attended the University of Portland for his undergraduate degree and went on to Harvard Medical School, where he finished in 2010 and completed his residency at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle in 2017. He is currently serving as a teacher and surgeon at the University of Illinois, specializing in emergency trauma surgery. In recent years he has worked in war conditions in Afghanistan and Ukraine as a trauma surgeon, and continues to instruct other doctors facing patients in global conflict zones.
Leis graduated in 1998 and, after graduating from Oregon State University at the top of her class with a degree in microbiology, she earned her medical degree from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She went on to finish her residency in integrated plastic surgery at Loma Linda University. Currently she is the residency program director and division chief for plastic hand surgery at University of California, Irvine, where she focuses on pediatric and congenital hand surgery and brachial plexus injury cases.
Leis said that growing up in small-town Sisters in a low-income situation has motivated her to serve others who have barriers to accessing much-needed health care in her area of expertise. She has won numerous awards from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Both Leis and Slavkovsky acknowledged the love of their families that has allowed them both to pursue medical careers that have kept them away for long stretches of time. Leis dedicated her award to her mother, Heidi, who she called "my inspiration, my role model, who has shown me how to walk through life with grace and her head held high."
Steve Hodges, who served as the head baseball coach at Sisters High from 2007-2018 and held a winning percentage of nearly 75 percent in 298 games in his career, called his selection into the Hall of Fame "truly humbling." He spoke of coaching being an extension of the classroom and remembers telling his players that his care for them went way beyond their batting averages, but rather character and readiness to be good husbands, fathers, and contributors to their communities.
One of Hodges' former players, Ryan Pollard, entered the Hall of Fame based on his strong career as a three sport athlete - soccer, basketball, and baseball - which culminated in his selection as the SHS male Athlete of the Year as a senior in 2013. He earned all-state honors in basketball and all-league honors in all three sports. He is now working as the Homeless and Community Outreach Coordinator for Polk County.
Jeff Barton has the unique honor of being inducted along with his son Scott, a 2006 grad, both for their accomplishments in the golf program at SHS. Barton coached from 1993-2011.
Jeff began his golf coaching career in the spring of 1993 during the first year of the new high school with no experience coaching the sport. He may not have ever envisioned what was to come in the years ahead, when his own son became an integral part of some championship-level teams. From 2000-2008 Sisters boys' golf teams won two state titles, earned three second-place finishes, and a third-place finish, and Scott was among the very top prep golfers at any classification in Oregon from 2004-06.
The final honoree for the Outlaw Hall of Fame was the Roundhouse Foundation as a community organization candidate.
Roundhouse Foundation was founded by local artist Kathy Deggendorfer and her mother, Gert Boyle, and began offering grants to nonprofits for educational and community efforts in 2002. From supporting individual students with grants for education opportunities outside of the school walls to partnering with the Sisters Folk Festival, its impact has touched all corners of the community. Since its inception the Foundation has grown well beyond the local area and now includes grant opportunities and support throughout rural Oregon and the nine federally recognized tribes and 54 historic bands of indigenous people.
Erin Borla, Kathy Deggendorfer's daughter and 1998 graduate of Sisters High School, accepted the award on behalf of the foundation.
Borla acknowledged the culture of support that continues since she was a student herself.
"I look around, I see my teachers, my administrators, my counselor, and others still here tonight," she said, "Once an Outlaw, always an Outlaw."
She continued, "Round-house has truly had an opportunity to live right here in Sisters, and be a part of this space and breathe life into what we see as the creative life blood in the community. We couldn't be more proud to be based here in Sisters and to be inducted into the Outlaw Hall of Fame. We look forward to continuing to partner with all of you in the future."
The Outlaw Hall of Fame is co-chaired by Don Pollard and Kris Kristovich. Pollard wanted to thank all of the sponsors of the event, including Ray's Food Place, GFP Response, Ambrose Law Group, Total Real Estate Group, Bill Farley, Sisters Car Connection, Your Store, KPD Insurance, Aspen Lakes, XPress Printing, Three Sisters Floral, Robinson and Owen, Cody's BBQ, and Outlaws Photography.
The Hall of Fame is accepting nominations for the class of 2024. More information can be found at the group's website at http://www.shshalloffame.org.