Palo Alto High School will honor its retired physical education teacher and athletic director, Coach Earl Hansen, fondly known as "Silver Fox," by renaming the Paly Viking Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9. The new name will be Earl Hansen Viking Stadium.
The renaming event will recognize Hansen’s extraordinary contribution to Paly students over the years. Hansen, who retired in 2013, has coached thousands of students over 26 years, including honorary event chairs Jim Harbaugh, Davante Adams, Jeremy Lin, and Joc Pederson.
Hansen is known for his ability to harness the talent of gifted athletes and coaches and to inspire them to achieve various athletic titles, such as CIF state championships in boys varsity basketball (1993, 2006), boys varsity football (2010), and girls varsity volleyball division 1 (2010, 2011).
Paly won CCS championships in football (1995, 2006, 2007, 2010), consecutive golf championships (1994 and 1995), and many more CCS titles in other sports.
The boys and girls lacrosse teams won the inaugural Santa Clara Valley Athletic League Championships in 2010.
Paly now has 25 varsity boys and girls teams, including badminton, baseball, basketball, field hockey, football, golf, lacrosse, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field/cross country, water polo, and wrestling. All of these were supported by Hansen.
There will be an official unveiling of the newly named stadium in addition to the installation of a brand new bronze plaque and monument in the stadium’s existing “Coaches Circle.” The committee is also planning some special events.
The varsity game halftime naming ceremony will be emceed by Dave Feldman, Paly Class of 1983 and a sports broadcaster.
A scoreboard refresh, an updated sound system, and an ongoing scholarship are also part of the project, according to a press release from event organizers.
The event will also mark a long overdue celebration of the State Championship teams.
In 2010, after Paly won the Vikings’ first-ever state football championship, the City of Palo Alto and the Paly community honored Hansen, and the 2010 CIF football and volleyball champions with a grand parade down University Avenue, planned by the Paly Boosters President Tina Bono. Hansen's wife, Marilyn, was also part of this celebration.
As mentioned in the press release, the first ever football State Championship is what solidified Hansen’s dedication and hard work, as he earned the ESPN RISE CAL-Hi Sports State Football Coach of the Year Award for the first time in Paly’s history. That’s when plans to honor Hansen with the naming of the Paly Athletic Stadium really began, but things were delayed for several reasons including the pandemic, leaving the accolade long overdue.
About Saturday’s event, Bono, volunteer committee chair, said: “We’re so proud of Earl Hansen and all that he has done. We know that when Palo Altans and people around the Bay Area hear about our project, they will want to support it.”
In Hansen’s honor, a campaign to encourage donations, small and large, has been launched by a group of Paly sports parents and athletes, with support from the school’s administration.
“As great as Earl’s accomplishments are, this is really a tribute to all of the teams, players, and coaches who worked with Earl, as much as it is to the man himself,” Bono said.