Terry Tiripelle.

Frank Lemos.

Joe Gamez.

Corky Napier

Bill Magnusson.

These are names associated with turning Central Section wrestling into the top high school wrestling section in California.

Magnusson, who has been Firebaugh High’s wrestling coach for 37 years, was honored recently by his school district with the dedication of the school’s wrestling room in his name. On the same day, longtime school board member and community volunteer Dr. Oscar Sablan was also honored, as the high school’s new band room was dedicated to him.

Magusson began teaching at Firebaugh High in 1985. He taught Construction Technology, Math, Physical Education, and he has served as Head Football and Head Wrestling Coach. During his career at Firebaugh High, he has received many awards: Wrestling Coach of the Year, Excellence in Wrestling Coach, District Teacher of the Year and he was also nominated for Fresno County Teacher of the Year. Bill was the City/County All Star head football coach after leading the Eagles to the West Sierra League Championship in 2015.

In his first year as wrestling coach, he led Firebaugh to a D-5 Valley Championship. The Eagles also won the Valley in 1991, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2002 and 2005 and were then moved up to D-2, the first team to ever compete in D-2 at Firebaugh. The Firebaugh Wrestling Club also produced a World team member, one Double National Champion, one National Folkstyle Champion and eight high school All Americans. He has also been the director of the Westside Invitational Wrestling Tournament from 1991-2019.

When the Eagle wrestling team begins its 2022-23 season in a few weeks, Magnusson will again be at the helm.

He has also spearheaded the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter.

“Coach Mag and his wife Debbie have spent endless hours supporting our student athletes,” said Firebaugh Schools Superintendent Roy Mendiola. “Coach credits his faith, family, fire, friends and his fanatic pursuit of the perfect practice, perfect team, perfect match, and perfect game for keeping him fast, flexible, and highly favored.”

Dr. Sablan and his wife, Dr. Marcia Sablan, moved to Firebaugh from Hawaii and opened a Family Medical Practice as part of a three-year medical loan forgiveness program through the National Health Services Corp. This federal program was available for newly graduated physicians who agree to work in underserved areas.

According to Sablan, the couple’s “plan” was to meet the three-year requirement and then walk away from the Firebaugh assignment with all their debts forgiven.

However, four decades later, they are still in Firebaugh, becoming community fixtures while raising their four children here.

Besides their medical service, the Sablans have also been deeply involved in the community. Marcia just retired after serving over 30 years on the Firebaugh City Council. Oscar has served on the Firebaugh School District Board, and the couple also started the city’s free Community Christmas Day Dinner in 1981,

Oscar was also a regular presence on the sidelines of football games as team physician.

“He and Marcia made sure that our athletes met their annual sports physicals by seeing them after school,” said Mendiola. “They wanted to make sure that every student would be eligible to participate in sports. They both would come to our school site to immunize our staff.”

Oscar also served on the California School Boards Association as a delegate for eight years.

In 2014, he received the Frederick K.M. Plessner Memorial Award. This award best exemplifies the practice and ethics of a rural practitioner whose commitment goes above and beyond the exam room.

Gene Lieb/The Express
Firebaugh-Las Deltas Unified School District Superintendent, Roy Mendiola, left, presents a plaque to Dr. Oscar Sablan and his wife, Dr Marcia Sablan during a facilities dedication tour held Oct. 8, 2022 at Firebaugh High School.
David Borboa