[Editor’s note: The idea behind “Alphabet Stories” is to write one noteworthy athletics-related story about each OSAA-member school. We started with Adrian HS on Sept.18. Today’s story, more than six months later, is about Crane Union HS. The goal is to write two per week all the way to Yoncalla! While we will be relying upon athletic directors to furnish story ideas, anyone may offer suggestions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org]
Tiz Doman may have been born in Alberta, Canada, but she was one of them.
When she married Dave Doman and returned with him to Crane, in the High Desert of Harney County, in 2002, she grew fond of the area almost immediately.
Tiz became involved in the school and LDS church. She spent hours organizing activities for Crane students through the elementary school Parent-Teacher Organization and the high school booster club. She was a fixture in the community, just as other Domans had been, off and on, since Dave’s father, Dee, began coaching wrestling at Crane in 1976.
Dave Doman began teaching at Crane after graduating from college. One of Dee’s 16 children, he followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming the wrestling coach. He also assists with the football team.
“I was always drawn to the High Desert, and I knew that Crane would be a great place to teach, and raise a family,” Dave said. “When I finished at the university, I went to work in the family construction business. When the teaching job came open in Crane, my dad told me, ‘If you're going to teach and coach, Crane is the place to do it.’ Tiz and I agreed we would try it for five years, then reevaluate. She was hooked after a short time, and the rest is history.”
Tiz and Dave had five children together. Two are still in elementary school. The other three: Rixon, who graduated last year; Shelie, a current senior; and Leslie, a sophomore; played and play three sports at Crane.
In this very small, rural community, which consists of a post office, service station/tavern and farm supply store; and whose high school regularly enrolls fewer than 50 students, most of whom board there because their farms and ranches are so far away; the Doman name was very big indeed.
When Tiz Doman was diagnosed with cancer, she was in her early 40s, in the prime of her life, with so much left to do and so many more memories to make.
She stayed active in the community and fought for extra days with her family, until the disease took her in December of 2019. Rixon was at the start of his senior wrestling season. Shelie and Leslie were at the start of what would be an historic girls basketball season.
Near the end, Dave, who’d ceded his head coaching position for a year to tend to Tiz’s needs, asked his wife whether she wanted to be buried in Alberta, near her family. She replied, “Crane is my home.”
At the funeral, many more people than Crane has residents showed up to pay their respects to Tiz and the entire Doman family. Rixon’s wrestling rivals were there. So, too, were rival coaches…even some referees. Cove HS agreed to delay a girls basketball game, scheduled that day, until the evening so that the Crane girls could pay their respects at the ceremony and then play for Tiz on the court.
The support shown to the Doman family, both during and after Tiz’s fight, was heartwarming. The broader community wrapped their loving arms around Tiz, Dave and their brood, offering assistance and encouragement at every turn. After her death, flowers and cards from rival teams were commonplace.
“The support that I received from my family was nothing short of miraculous,” Dave said. “Other circumstances brought two of my brothers and my parents here to Crane in time for them to step in and help with the team. My little brother even got his substitute teacher’s license so he could fill in at school when needed. My longtime assistant and friend, Jerry Holloway (one of my dad's former wrestlers), took over that year as Head Coach. That combination allowed me the flexibility to take care of Tiz.
“The support from the community was humbling. I can't begin to describe the outpouring of love, concern, faith, and finances on our behalf. Sometimes, as a coach and teacher, you don't realize the impact of the relationships that you build. I am so grateful for the people of Harney County.
“The support that I received from rival coaches and wrestlers, and even referees, magnified in my mind, and in my heart, the bonds of friendship we forge though interscholastic athletic competition. I will never forget the feelings of love and brotherhood I felt as ‘rival’ coaches and athletes mourned with me and my children.”
Two months after Tiz died, Rixon qualified for the OSAA 2A/1A state wrestling championships at 132 pounds. He pinned one opponent, lost in the quarterfinals to a wrestler who took third and lost his final match in a heartbreaker, 11-10, to the fourth-place finisher.
One week later, Crane’s girls basketball team completed a 29-0 season by winning the 1A state championship, its first in 16 years. Shelie was named Second Team All-Tournament.
“It was a bright spot in a hard year,” Shelie said. “It felt like an escape, where my family and I could feel happy, excited and supported.”
It’s now been 15 months since Tiz passed away. Dave is back teaching and coaching. The kids are a year older, trying to cope with the loss of their mother and trying to take things day by day during COVID times.
“We're doing our best to carry on,” Dave said. “We are happy to return to play. We're back at it, and we love it. My kids have been troopers. My son, Rixon, has expressed several times that he is grateful for wrestling; that it taught him to do hard things. Athletics continues to play a role in helping us do hard things.”
Post-script: Dave was most gracious in the information-gathering stage for this story. He emailed me last night, wanting to know if I needed more.
“Please feel free to call,” he said, “but I’ll probably be busy coaching. Or watching my girls…”