Team effort

Posted on March 5th in Feature Story,News

By Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

Nona Popham has been driving Hilander teams to athletic events for 17 years  and although she faced some of the most treacherous weather conditions this past winter, it was also one of the most rewarding.Bus driver Nona Popham met some treacherous driving conditions this year, while bussing Burns High School athletes to and from basketball games. However, the support of the coaches and players helped her make it through.

“This group of kids and coaches have been super all year long,” Popham said. “The kids have been so well-behaved, helpful and encouraging, it makes me proud to be from Burns.”

Popham said one of the most memorable trips was in January when the basketball teams made the trip north for games with Riverside and Umatilla.

The teams spent the night in a motel after the Riverside game and then headed to Umatilla with the intent of heading back home after the game. “I went out to the bus for a break, and while I was there, freezing rain began falling,” Popham said. “I saw people coming out of the school and falling flat. Cars were sliding all over the lot, and I knew we were in trouble.”

Popham said that after conversations with school officials, the decision was made to spend another night rather than risk the danger of driving on icy roads.

“I had the chains on our bus and was driving back to the motel at about 10 miles an hour when we passed the Union school bus that had slid off the road,” she said. “Then when we got back to the motel, the bus just slid into the curb as I was trying to stop.”

To get the bags and luggage to the motel, Popham said they threw a blanket over the ice, walked to the edge and then threw it down again ahead of them. “It was a bad situation, it was so icy,” Popham said. “But the kids and coaches were great. The coaches would help me back the bus up, the kids carried my luggage in and even gave me an elbow to hang onto so I didn’t fall.”

The following morning, the teams headed home. “It took us eight hours to get back, but the kids were wonderful,” Popham said.

Popham said the students and coaches have been supportive of her and each other all year long and that has made it a special time. “When we’d get through a tough situation, the kids would cheer, ‘No-Na, No-Na!’” she said. “After the trip home from Nyssa in blowing and drifting snow, they gave me a plaque that says something like, ‘If you can believe it, you can do it.’ That plaque means a lot to me.”

Popham said the coaches have helped make this year enjoyable as well. “Eric (Nichols) and his assistants help out whenever they can, and I see them becoming better coaches by the minute. It’s refreshing,” she said. “Alice (Herauf) is always so helpful. She sits up by me and asks me if I’m OK, do I need water. She helps me watch the road, and makes sure I feel like I’m not all alone.”

Popham also had praise for her co-workers. “They are the greatest people to work with,” she said. “I’m fortunate enough to be one of those people who absolutely loves their job. I love driving, the games, and I’ve so enjoyed this bunch of kids and coaches.”

8 Responses to “Team effort”

  1. Jeanie Voltin Says:

    Nona, this is your cousin Jeanie (Clark) Voltin, I was so happy to see that you were featured in the paper, how wonderful is that. I do wish we could be more in touch, it’s good to see what you’ve been doing in the last years. Let’s get in touch. Jeanie

  2. Nathan Ritches Says:


    Glad to see this article. You have done so muc for our school district, school teams, and even the band when we needed you! It is nice to see someone that likes such a headache of a job- You go girl.

    Thanks for all you do- It was great to see you at state!


  3. Randy Rowlette Says:


    It is a pleasure to see you getting the credit you deserve. Growing up and attending school with your children, I can recall your involvement with the school and community for many years I am glad to hear that you are reaping the benefits you deserve for all you have done.


  4. Dion Baird Says:


    I think it’s great that you are getting some recognition and am glad that you are getting all the support that you deserve, but then you have always supported everyone else in their efforts, so I’m glad to see it being returned.

    Take care Nona,

  5. Matt Everhart Says:

    well noone had to tell me shes great!!….I’ve known all along. Oh and if you ever get the chance, have her make you some chili mac…ITS DELICIOUS!!!…LOL….. Love ya Nana…

  6. Kevin Taylor Says:

    A caring and dedicated person like yourself Nona is a rare treasure for our kids. Thanks for everything.

  7. Renee McClain Says:


    As far back as I can remember (and that’s a long time) you have been a second mom to me and to the hundreds of kids throughout the years you have worked for Burns Union High. You are always loving, supportive and fun and I know you have touched the hearts and minds of everyone who’s met you. You are an amazing gift to Harney County and I’m sure I speak on behalf of every life you’ve ever touched in saying thank you for being such an amazing woman.

  8. Fawn Alden Says:

    I wish I would have read this sooner. My Auntie Nona has such an enormous heart. Not only is she the best bus driver there is she is also the best cook. When my little boy was so sick she would cook all day just to come up with the right foods that he could eat. She has always put family and friends first. We love you Antie.

Leave a Reply

Whaddya Think?

Which is your favorite Sunday afternoon activity?
  • Watching football (35%)
  • Taking a walk/drive (20%)
  • Napping (18%)
  • Reading (14%)
  • Baking (9%)
  • Playing family games (4%)

85 total vote(s)

Loading ... Loading ...

Destination Harney County

Destination Harney County 2012


Litehouse Technology

Litehouse Logo

Ruthie's In His Image Photography

Ruthies In His Image Photography


Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Pinterest

Your Advertisement Here!