Matthew McConaughey spent time in her house. In fact you could even say he lived there. And certainly he could be seen bounding down her front steps to pick up a newspaper in her yard.
Debby Stoler and her family never dreamed their home in the Highlawn section of Huntington would be taking a star turn in the 2006 movie, "We Are Marshall." And unlike the hordes of local folk who lined up and patiently waited hours to see if they could land a role as an extra, her house never even had to audition. The location scout simply showed up at her door one day and said the production company was interested in using her house in one scene as the movie home for Coach Lengyel , i.e. McConaughey. And just like that the comfortable Stoler house became the movie home of a famous actor who had just been named “The Sexiest Man Alive” by People magazine.
Actually the crew was interested only in the exterior of the house—the interior scenes were shot at another location, but by necessity some changes did take place inside her home. And even for that brief sequence, the crew did some tweaking to make the home as authentic to the 1970s as possible. For instance, the living room curtains were replaced with sheers because sheers were trendier in that era.
The house’s big scene came when Coach Lengyel, discouraged by the setbacks he’s encountering and facing the scary prospect of sending his truly green team—in more ways than one—on the field in the home season opener against Xavier, tries to lift the spirits of his young son by playfully challenging him to a race to pick up the morning newspaper. The two burst out of the house only to find, to their amazement, crowds of supporters filling the street and shouting words of encouragement to the beleaguered coach.
And although the scene lasted only a few seconds, the preparation was both meticulous and tedious, Stoler says. The Stolers were allowed to remain inside the house while filming took place, so they got a rare close-up look at the nuts and bolts of the making of a major motion picture. The crew and director McG were warm and friendly and very complimentary about the reception they received from the Huntington and university communities. The Stolers watched with fascination as first a stand-in for McConaughey ran through the brief scene several times and then McConaughey himself and the young actor playing his son did the scene five times before it was declared a wrap.
Seeing their house with all its familiar nooks and crannies appear larger than life on the big screen (Debby first saw it when she ushered at the movies’ December 2006 gala premier) was truly a magic moment for the family.
The movie came out shortly before Stoler, who is the Assistant Director of Development and Outreach for Career Services, came back to Marshall where years before she had received a degree in Elementary/Special Education. In the ensuing years she spent time in other jobs and one in particular was a very sweet one—just ask her now grown children, Shawn and Ami. “For 12 years I was the retail sales rep for the Hershey Company, with Huntington and the surrounding area as my territory. I sold Hershey products, through sales surveys, to all kinds of vendors, all kinds of stores,” she explains. “It was a great job. I loved it, my kids loved it, needless to say!” And one company perk her family particularly enjoyed was a trip to Hershey, Pa., which the company provided to take in Chocolate World and Hershey Park. And yes, just as legend has it, the city really does smell like chocolate, Stoler says.
A lifelong resident of Huntington, Stoler found it was an easy decision to rejoin the university that has been such a part of her family’s life. Her easy rapport with people, her enthusiasm for whatever task she takes on, and her skill in building solid relationships made her an ideal fit for Career Services. “My sales background has come in very handy in this job,” she says. “In sales you do a lot of relationship building and I do the same thing here.”
There are three components to Career Services’ effectiveness, Stoler says: companies looking to hire, faculty and students. “I work with companies and recruiters who are looking to hire our students or graduates. We want to get companies to come to campus to showcase our programs and our students/graduates; to show them what we have here at Marshall. They don’t always realize what we can do for them.” She also works with faculty members to ensure they are aware of what Career Services can do for the professional development of their students, such as class presentations on topics ranging from interviewing techniques to resumes and CVs, networking skills and tips on job search. Part of working with faculty also includes connecting them with recruiters who are seeking good talent for their companies and making sure they are aware of current employment opportunities posted to JobTrax. According to Stoler, “Faculty are so in touch with all their students and we want them to connect with these companies and see the jobs we post to JobTrax so that they can pass that information to their students and graduates.”
Marshall JobTrax is an online database where employers can post positions and
students and alumni can search for local and national job openings and apply
directly to companies. Students can also upload and store resumes, cover
letters, transcripts and other important documents in an electronic format
through their JobTrax account.
Stoler is also in charge of career-related campus events which include career expos, etiquette dinners, company recruiting visits, and scheduling class presentations and class events at Career Services.
The ultimate goal of Career Services is to help students find and get on the right career track for them, and then develop the professional skills to be successful. “Students can meet with our career advisors if they are undecided or wavering on major selection. Often times an interest inventory assessment will be given to help them pool their interest and skills for guidance on possible career paths. Then we want to prepare them for the world and their careers. They need to know how to present themselves, how to do a job search, interview, and network in a social atmosphere. They should have a comfortable feel for business and dining etiquette. They will leave Marshall with a degree and the knowledge they need to be successful in their field. Career Services helps provide the professional polish so that they can enter the workforce with confidence in themselves and a competitive edge that is so essential in today’s tough economy. That’s why we want to get the word out, we’re here to help. We know we offer a very valuable service and we want it to be used.”
Just as her fervor for her job spills over, her passion for music is as great in her life. Even as a small child she was enthralled by music. She learned to play the piano and also sang in school choirs and groups. It’s been a lifelong love affair. She’s sung in church choirs and has been a member of a local choral group, Renaissance, for 12 years. She has performed with a small women’s group, Gold’n Girls—named for the director, Janice Chandler Gold. She’s sung at weddings, luncheons, and other social affairs. Listen closely and you can hear her clear voice raised in song at the traditional caroling that takes on campus each December. “Having music in my life is number one,” she says adamantly.
Stoler also enjoys reading and ‘trying’ to stay physically fit, she says. She and her husband of 35 years, Rex, enjoy riding bikes and often ride the 6-7 miles from their home to the campus and downtown to Pullman Square and the Ohio river. She’s been a volunteer usher for the Marshall Artists Series for years and has volunteered at Hospice as her time allows. And of course there’s the “love of my life.” her six-year-old granddaughter, Rylee, who fortunately lives close by, to spoil.
“I don’t like to sit around ... I like to be doing things, to be busy,” she
explains cheerfully, a whopping understatement to all those who know her.
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