We are squeezing as much life out of the gym as we can. We didn't forecast this. I wish I could say I was brilliant enough to have predicted another first, but I did not expect this. For the first time in our school's 150 year history, we are sending both the boys and girls basketball teams to the District Championships! For the first time both teams have qualified for the State Tournament!
The credit goes to our student-athletes and coaches. As Hatch shared during his retirement speech, "OES student-athletes are over-achievers." Both our boys and girls programs have established themselves as tough, physical defensive minded teams that love to compete. When you watch our girls, take a second to look into the stands. You will see the boys cheering away. Every time a 3 pointer is launched the boys are the first ones out of their seats with their hands in the air. During the boys game you will see the see the girls leave the bleachers and do push-ups after every trey or made foul shot. Coach Kirk and Coach Dawson stress, "One Program." Their enthusiasm is infectious and their classmates are next to them in the stands cheering away. The one thing that stands out to me this season is seeing all of the parents of non-basketball players who come to the games. One program, one school, one community.
My fifth grade son and his buddies don't know any better. He assumes that during every basketball game the bleachers will be packed, the dunk ball courts will be filled with the next wave of Aardvarks, and the boys and the girls will head to the Championship game.
See you at Wilson High School Saturday night. Boys tip-off at 6:00PM against De la Salle North. After the game the All League teams will be recognized. Then it is the girls who will take the floor. They also face De La Salle North. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens. Let's celebrate our student-athletes and show De La Salle and the rest of the Lewis and Clark League how proud we are of our basketball program.
Another first! The OES girls basketball team are the 2020 Lewis and Clark League Champions. Yes, the senior class that won ONE league game their freshman year gathered Monday night after defeating Riverdale 48-34, and posed as the first team in school history to win a girls basketball league title! Great senior leadership, outstanding coaching, dynamic play from everyone and a commitment to play together, compete to the best of their abilities and support one another has led to this historic accomplishment. I know not many people read this blog(I am pretty sure my mom has stopped reading also) but Missy and I will be singing this team's praises in the OES hallways. No season exists in a vacuum. That was obvious on Tuesday when the varsity girls showed up to support last year's captain Rachel Lowell. Rachel is taking a Gap Year before heading to Bates College next fall. Currently, she is our 7/8th grade girls basketball coach. The middle school team was trailing in the second half when the varsity girls showed up. The older girls cheered loudly, and the 7/8 team rallied for a critical 19-16 win. The magic of being in a K-12 school was obvious!
The boys basketball team finished the season with the #2 seed. Last season they were dead last in the league. I have tried to figure out why they made such a jump. I have several hypotheses, but one stands out the most to me, the 12th man. Great teams need competitive depth. They need everyone to be invested and to model how much they care. Last season the end of the bench had a different energy. During games you could see guys joking around at the end of the bench. In practice the silliness would continue drawing focus and energy away from competition. Not this year. Ethan B'20 rejoined the basketball team his senior year. Before the first practice Coach Kirk had the honest conversation that if he was looking for playing time it may be wise to think about playing JV. No thank you coach! Ethan has not played prolific minutes this season. He has led the team in high fives, chest pounding, and jumping off the bench to celebrate big plays. When a teammate comes off the floor, he is part cheerleader, part coach, part counselor depending on what the young man needs. More importantly, Ethan has changed the dynamic in practice. Every rep he is giving 100%. He is competing to win each play, pushing buttons and letting the starters know that they can't stop him. You want to beat him, you better be practicing at game speed.
I am not shocked that Ethan would have such a positive effect on the team. In the fall he was the guy who made sure the crowd was fired up during soccer and volleyball matches. During the soccer state championships he organized the student tailgate. You may have seen him waving the OES flag once or a thousand times. All senior year he has found ways to selflessly contribute to his classmates' experience. He is not alone in doing this. But what is unique is that in the spring Ethan is going to be the guy in the spotlight. He will be an anchor for the OES boys lacrosse team and will have to play every single second of the game. Even if he wants a break, I doubt he will get one. All eyes will be on him because of his talent and his impact during the game.
There are numerous student-athletes like Ethan in the class of 2020. They are multi-sport athletes who love to be a part of the team. Rachel H, Ryan B, Ava C, Isabelle T, Kennedy B, John F, Milo K, Hugh S, Asa B, Sophie C just to name a few. They may be the star one season, and come off the bench in another, but they elevate the team because of their commitment, effort, and willingness to show they care. These young people are becoming unicorns. As I check in with our lower school parents and students I hear both fourth graders and forty year olds talk about specialization. You have to be the best or it isn't worth being on the team. You need to good instead of finding something bigger than yourself to be a part of. Nine year olds playing the same sport with the same team year round. Ethan has the confidence and the compassion to be the star of the team and the guy waving the towel from the bench. Is specializing in 4th grade developing those same characteristics? I don't know, but I am sure no is having a better senior year than Ethan.
Ski Team Report
OES boys head east this weekend for the 4th race of the season. They are currently 2nd in the Metro League with three races remaining. Seniors Hugh S(1st in rankings) Alex U(8th) Ian B(13th) and Asa (18th) are leading the team and freshman Olin G(21st) and Seth T(25th) are providing great depth.
OES girls are currently 3rd in the Metro. Grace A is 3rd overall in ranking with Catherine Z at 7th and Isabelle T in 25th. Both teams are focused on winning Metro and seem certain to qualify for States!
Senior Night! Tonight is the final basketball regular season game against Catlin Gabel! Girls tip-off at 6:00PM and the boys follow at 7:30PM. Since it is Valentine's Day be sure to wear your red for a Red Out as we celebrate our seniors on Senior Night!
District Playoffs! The OES boys will host Westside Christian for the first round of the District Playoffs on Monday at 6:00PM. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for students and Sr Citizens. OES will cover the cost of all OES students and employees.
OES Ski Team Girls Varsity captured a 4th place finish:
3 Racers Contributing to the Team Result included:
Grace Armstrong – 3rd Place on first run, 3rd Place on the second run which earned 3rd Place individual podium finish. Catherine Zhu – 8th place on first run and 6th place on the second run, which earned 6th Place individual finish. Sydney Roth – 37th place on first run and 33rd place on second run which earned 31st Place individual finish. Boys Varsity captured a 3rd place finish:
5 Racers Contributed to the Team Result included:
Hugh Shanno - 5th place first run, 2nd place second run which earned 2nd place individual podium finish. Alex Ugas - 1st place on first run dominating the field by 8 second lead.
Olin Gilster – 24th place on first run and 21st on second run, which earned 18th place individual finish. Ian Berquam - 23rd place on first run and 26th on second run, which earned 19th place individual finish. Asa Brown – 25th on second run.
Last Friday our basketball teams traveled to Catlin Gabel. Catlin Gabel girls varsity have battled injuries all season long, but on Friday they had everyone back. It was obvious this wasn’t the same team that was 0-5 in the league standings. After the first half it was OES 22 Catlin 18. The girls kept the lead throughout the second half and won 37-28. The OES girls finished the first half of the season 5-1 andlater learned that Horizon Christian had lost to PAA and the Aardvarks were now tied for 1st place in the Lewis and Clark League. The girls would play Saturday and defeat De La Salle in a tough and gritty 37- 27 victory. This set up the rematch with Horizon Christian and the winner of this game would be #1 in the league standings. In December when we played at Horizon the game went to quadruple overtime and the girls lost. They struggled offensively and had 37 fouls. This time the girls jumped out to a 23-0 lead. That is not a typo. They were dialed in. Wylly W was dominant on defense and Cayton S hit four of her first five three point attempts. Rachel H and Ava C dominated the blocks and the girls seized the moment. Horizon would battle for the next three quarters, but OES would never feel threatened and won 33-20. On Thursday they wrapped up the week on the road at Portland Adventist Academy. The girls jumped out to a 9-2 lead and never looked back. They won 43-31. They are currently 1st in the L&C League.
Catlinpacked the gym and their student section was outstanding on Friday night.After the girls victory the OES boys took the court. Catlin jumped out to an early lead. At the start of the fourth quarter OES trailed 32-27. Since I am a short guy and I couldn’t find a seat in the packed house, I crossed the court and sat opposite of the crowd. It was the best seat in the house. I could look across and see both school communities cheering loudly. If I looked directly to my left I could see both teams’ benches focused on supporting their teams on the floor. Each student-athlete who was on the court was focused on giving 100 percent to help his team. The Aardvarks were playing their tough defense, but Catlin was shutting them down also. Halfway through the quarter, behind the aggressive play of Luca P, Ryan M and Charles W, OES went on a run and with only 2:34 left in the game OES took the lead for the first time 39-35. The Aardvarks would close out the game and earn a huge league win on the road. They would drop the next won against De La Salle North which set up a classic trap game against Horizon Christian. Although Horizon was last in league standings, they are extremely well coached. They often suffered tough lapses and that would create a lead that they couldn’t overcome. On Tuesday they didn’t have that lapse. OES played well, but Horizon went toe to toe with the Aardvarks. The score was tied 36-36 with 18.6 seconds left. OES had the ball. Charles W took a shot, but it bounced off the rim. Sophomore Luke M gathered the rebound and dribbled into the lane. He had a shot, but unselfishly he kicked it out to senior Ryan M, who had just tied the game on a jumper. Ryan caught the ball and drained the shot. Horizon had a last second heave which fell short and OES won 39-36. On Thursday the boys trailed PAA until the fourth quarter. With 2:32 left in the game they finalyl took a 1 point lead: 51-50. Again this squad showed their poise and maturity and grinded out another league win 60-52.
It has been a tough year for Catlin Gabel. Everything that they are going through is well documented in the newspapers. However, last Friday when the focus was on competition between our schools, they demonstratedwhat they strive to be. At halftime of the boys game they held a fundraiser to support Nabila Mazouzz Memorial Fund. Head of School Tim Bazemore and Assistant Head of School Barbara Ostos shot foul shots in front of the packed house. Each made shot raised money for the fund. It was fun, whimsical, and more importantly it demonstrated to everyone how both schools are connected. During this difficult time Catlin Gabel continues to model their core values.
Difficulttimes reveal who we are, and what is really important. It is easy to get lost in the moment and forget about what we all are striving for: use our power for good.
OES recently received a portable AED by the David Heller Foundation.
Thank you to the David Heller Foundation which was established in 2006 after the death of David Heller who was 17 and a junior at Central Catholic High School in Portland, Oregon at the time of his death in November of 2005. He had played in a basketball game the night before he died. He died in his sleep of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart), the most common cause of sudden death in athletes. He had been cleared to play sports 3 weeks before he died and had no known heart condition.
The foundation was created in his name to promote the importance of cardiac screening in teen athletes. The foundation also works to identify schools in need of a portable AED that can be on the bus, on the field or wherever you have athletes and fans. The foundation has distributed over 190 AEDs and will distribute another 50 in 2020.
OES is grateful to the David Heller Foundation and inspired by their mission.
Tonight our boys and girls basketball teams head to Catlin Gabel. Playing our rival is always a big game, but tonight also marks the middle of the season. Like climbing a mountain, many people focus on getting to the pinnacle, but every mountaineer will tell you getting down the mountain is just as challenging. Both teams are battle tested, and have established their team identities after playing fifteen games. Currently our girls and boys are 2nd in the Lewis and Clark League. Starting Saturday they play six more league games, but game locations flip. We are on the road against De La Salle North, PAA, Riverdale, and we get to host Horizon Christian, Westside Christian, and Catlin Gabel. On February 14 we play our final league game and say thank you to seniors and their families. Do not miss these final opportunities to support your basketball teams and see the final games in the OES gym.
Tonight Catlin will be raising money for Nabila Mazzouz's Memorial Fund. Although they are our rival, Catlin is also a great friend and we are grateful for their support and they know that we are here for them, also. Please consider supporting Nabila's Fund by clicking on this link.
Updates: Charles W'21 scored in the final seconds to secure the league win over Riverdale this Wednesday. It was the fourth boys victory in a row. The boys are currently ranked 9th at the 3A classification. The girls defeated Riverdale behind Macy O'20 11 points. The girls have the #1 scoring defense in the state and are currently ranked 8th in 3A Oregon.
The Boys and Girls Ski Racing Teams both finished 3rd at last Saturday's race. Hugh S'20 was 3rd overall, Ian B'20 was 8th and Asa B'20 was 11th. Grace A was the top girl finisher for OES at 3rd, with Grace Z'22 at 9th and Isabelle T'21 finishing 21st.
Wednesday night I was in a familiar space, but with a different role. After parking in the OES upper lot, I walked down SPARC hill with my 2nd grade daughter Rhiannon. We were early, but the tennis courts already had dozens of Aardvarks dribbling basketballs. Rhiannon sprinted away after seeing her teammates, leaving me standing with the rest of the parents. Since Cindy McEnroe retired last spring, it was up to Missy Smith to calm everyone down. Each team gathered in a small circle and the coaches started the practice with several mindfulness activities. Nine circles of lower schoolers, nine teams, all led by parent volunteer coaches. I remember Year 1. Mindfulness? Not really. The first practice felt more like organized chaos. This year, Year 5, things ran smoothly thanks to Missy's leadership and so many veteran coaching volunteers. As I watched the 2nd grade girls start their dribbling exercises I was grateful for the three parent coaches that were patiently working with the 13 future WNBA stars. Two coaches were back from last season and they had added a rookie. The three of them made sure each player was hearing her name. Before you could say Double Dribble the hour was up and SPARC emptied out. As we walked back up the hill Rhiannon was re-sharing every detail of the practice. Her energy was off the charts.
HS basketball had the week off. It was ideal timing as our student-athletes prepare for finals next week . Coaches continued to remind their players to use the down time to prepare. Similar to an athletic season, the work has to be done ahead of time. You can't cram everything you need to get done at the last second and expect to be successful. Next week basketball and dryland training will be the healthy escape for many of our students as they spend Tuesday through Friday demonstrating what they have learned during the first semester.
The Ski Team will head out again this Friday. Last weekend the race was cancelled due to high winds. The stormy conditions were a bummer, but they also dropped a lot of snow to set up the rest of the season. The Ski Team is excited to defend their Metro Championship this Saturday!
The Athletic Department is slowly packing up the gym. In March construction for the new Athletic Center will start. We are packing up closets and preparing for 15 months of construction. Everyone in Fariss Hall is going to need to be flexible. Peter Kraft stepped up to model this. Lower School PE will move into his office. We will rely on the Fariss Hall Conference Room and Movement Room for changing spaces for our student-athletes. The AD office will also be used for a changing room along with storage.
You will not hear any complaints from us though. This new building will be the community space that we have needed for a very long time. All three divisions will live there on a daily basis. We can't wait!
I am guilty of it just like everyone else. You watch a game and you are ready to make predictions with the same certainty of the sports show hosts. "No way are we going to win a game this year!" "Get to the store and buy the champagne, we are destined for a championship!" There is no sport at OES that has to deal with immediate responses more than basketball. No one watches the first cross country meet and declares that this squad will not get faster! I have never heard a tennis parent make declarations in March before Coach Davis or Coach Collie can work their magic. But basketball is a little different. There is no sport that allows the fan in as much. We almost sit on the bench with the team. The players are feet away and we can see every grimace, smile, or cold stare. We can transcribe what the coaches say in the huddle. It is also a really simple game, right?
Not at all. As I walk around SPARC or the gym I am reminded on a daily basis how much work the student-athletes put in. It doesn't matter if it is 6th grade girls or Varsity boys. The coaches continue to teach knowing that the best way for someone to grow as a player is to fail first. It is no different in math class. I sometimes imagine the parents sitting in the bleachers with Karen Seder or Gabe Edge teaching their children in front of them. "What is she doing calling on Billy? There is no way he is ready to answer this question!" It doesn't matter that Billy's parents are close enough to hear. "Why would Susie give Jill the white board pen instead of writing the answer herself?!" We need this answer!"
I remember our MS boys B coach, Ray Kellstrom drawing up the end of the game play during a timeout. OES was down 1. The team broke the huddle and the four boys hustled to their spots on the floor with purpose and focus. The boy who was passing the ball inbounds received it from the referee. He slapped the ball and yelled, "Break!" just like Ray told him. The other four boys orchestrated the play perfectly. And then the young man holding the ball passed it directly to the other team. Ray had the opportunity a week later to do the same thing. Again he gave the same young man the job of passing the ball inbounds. Again, the same thing happened. I walked over to Ray after the game and told him how much I appreciated how he handled the situation. "Ray, that young man may never get that chance again to be responsible for a big play. Thanks for giving him another chance." Ray looked at me and said, "Oh, he is going to get another chance." For the final game of the year the hoopster made the correct pass and the boys won.
I hope everyone makes it to a game early in the season. I wish every teacher got to see the first game of their advisee. So often we catch the final game or senior night. But when you get to watch the first one and then you continue with the team, you see the growth. It doesn't mean the team always wins, because the other programs are committed to the same thing, getting better every day.
Girls Varsity remains undefeated after defeating Amity and Rainier at home. They are 5-0 and currently ranked #2 in the state. The boys suffered a tough defeat to Amity 44-42, but rebounded with a home victory over Rainier 56-48. Their record is 2-3.
We will announce All State soccer and volleyball next week!
Stress levels were high in the AD office as Missy and I went over the injury report. There is nothing more helpless than an athletic director two days before opening night of the basketball season. Everything is scheduled and you are just anxiously waiting to see what the character of the team will be when they step on to the floor. We tried to busy ourselves with spring scheduling, stalking middle school soccer players who haven't returned their jerseys, and reviewing the fall 2020 calendar one more time, but in our minds we stressed about ankle sprains, shin splints and a fever that was running through the Upper School and had hit one of my favorite student-athletes Rachel H'20.
The basketball teams traveled to Salem Academy on Wednesday and Rachel was dressed and ready to lead the girls team. The reason Rachel always stands out to me is I love kids that have great fundamentals. Rachel does all of the little things. Instead swiping at the ball, she moves her feet on defense! Instead of trying to block a shot and fouling, she hustles to the spot and draws a charge. She boxes out her opponent every time there is a shot! On offense she doesn't waste her dribble and although it sometimes seems like she is allergic to shooting the ball, it is often more likely that she sees a teammate that is moving to a better spot, so she throws a bounce pass that would make Pete Carril beam with pride. She sweats the small stuff that no longer gets noticed on Instagram or other self curated highlight shows. She is just a winner that focuses on playing a complete game.
The girls jumped out on Salem Academy. On offense the girls set great shoulder to shoulder screens, and they attacked the boards. You know a team has established its culture when the freshmen get thrown into the first game and you see them doing the hard things also. When Cayton S lost the ball on a breakaway, she didn't hang her head. She sprinted back to the defensive end and was in the right spot to get a steal. Hollis H stepped in at center due to captain Ava C getting in early foul trouble, and Hollis stood tall, she closed out on shooters and she boxed out. And Rachel H? Two days removed from being home in her PJ's with a 102 fever? She played every single minute. She finished with 10 points, 3 rebounds, 1 deflection. But when you watch the film you would see her on every rep doing the little things that lead to the team's 32-20 victory.
The boys struggled during their first game against Salem Academy losing 54-36. The coaches were in the film room early the next day identifying what they need to improve on. After watching both of our teams on film after one game I know there is a lot of basketball left this season. The coaches will continue to stress the importance of taking pride in doing the little things that lead to success.
I am fortunate to be one of the 5th grade boys coaches. We had our first practice on Wednesday and the drills that I was in charge of were all about what I saw from our varsity teams. As I wrapped up my drill on closing out and moving your feet instead of trying to block shots or steal the ball, I huddled up the boys and told them I hope some day they are on this court playing for a league championship. And maybe they will be as good as Rachel H.
Thank you! Sitting in an office all day can really suck the life out of you. That is why Thursday was so amazing. As I sat in front of my computer, alum Stephen London'09 stopped by to donate his old ski racing equipment to the team. I hadn't seen Stephen since 2009 and it was so amazing to reconnect. He shared with me how much skiing, soccer, his teachers and coaches positively affected him and how he had started to coach soccer so he could pass it on. It was like rocket fuel to get back behind the desk and keep working. Our alumni are amazing. They come back to cheer on their former teammates, like Stephen, they donate gear to the program, but more importantly they take the what they learned here at OES and share it with the greater community.
For four years of high school I had to walk across a small pedestrian bridge that connected my high school campus to the football practice field. Before you could cross over Saddle Brook River to practice you saw the same words painted on the pavement, "Choose To Lead." Every year Coach Johnson freshly painted those words in white paint so that they popped off the grey pavement.
Five years ago Missy Smith chose to lead. After hearing multiple times from colleagues from around the state that no one was doing anything to help develop the leadership skills of Oregon female student-athletes, she announced she would create a program. This weekend will be the 4th Oregon Girls Sports Leadership Summit. Over six hundred young women from all over Oregon will arrive on campus to develop new skills, attend workshops, network, and listen to other women share their stories of discovering and developing their leadership skills. It is an amazing day and our OES student-athletes not only attend but lead discussions and break out activities. How often do you hear people talk about developing leaders, but can't explain how they do it? Missy created an event that provides the instruction, mentorship, and inspiration but most importantly provides hands-on experience for a female student-athlete to develop her leadership voice. To learn more about this amazing event check out the information online: https://www.oes.edu/athletics/girls-leadership-summit
Last Saturday our girls and boys soccer teams competed in the OSAA State Championship game. The girls loss 2-1 to Catlin and our boys fell 3-1 to Catlin also. It was a special day. There were so many moments that filled me with pride. Watching Sophie C play her final HS match after fracturing her knee earlier this season, attending the Tailgate Crew's parking lot party between matches and seeing a senior class focused on celebrating their classmates' achievements, watching both teams handle defeat with such character and respect. Congratulations to Catlin Gabel on their championship seasons. Thank you to our student-athletes for doing such an amazing job representing OES. Seniors thank you for four inspiring years of fall sports.
Thank you to John Holloran, Kate Lieber, Donna Morrow and Jim Fitzhenry for taking photos this fall! Thank you to Todd Mansfield for broadcasting soccer matches on Mixlr. Thank you to all of our team parents who helped organize team dinners, extra snacks for road trips, and everything else that makes the season so special! Lastly, thank you to our bus drivers for getting the student-athletes to and from events safely.
Congratulations to 8th graders, Mia G and Jackson R for competing at the USATF Oregon Association Junior Olympics Championships on Saturday. Moving from a 3,000M to a 4K both 8th graders had exceptional performances. Jackson finished 35th and Mia finished 24th. Mia's younger brother Mateo(4th grade) entered for his age division and finished 11th. Way to go Aardvarks!
Alex Slusher'19 spent last weekend in Columbus, Ohio with the U-19 USA mens lacrosse team. Team USA had two scrimmages and then they had to cut their roster down from 32 to 26. Alex served as captain for the second scrimmage and made the latest round of cuts. The next training session will be in January in San Antonio for Team USA. Alex is currently a freshman at Princeton University and will play lacrosse for the Tigers this spring.
They have done it again. Our boys and girls varsity soccer teams will play in the State Championships tomorrow at Liberty HS. The girls kick-off at 10:30am and the boys follow at 1:00PM. I went back to see what the last 10 years have looked like. Our boys have made it to the final game 5 times during that span. Seven different Oregon programs have made it to the championship since 2010 with five different champions. The OES girls soccer team have played in the final game 9 years in a row. That is a staggering accomplishment. They have the opportunity to win their 8th state championship in a row!
At the same time I never plan to take it for granted. Their success comes from hard work, commitment, and sacrifice. As soon as our student-athletes assume they are entitled to make it to this day is when it all falls apart. It is going to be great weather for soccer. Be sure to join us to cheer on the Aardvarks as both teams face Catlin Gabel. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students/seniors.
Tuesday Road Trip!
Sometimes being a teacher, a coach, and definitely an athletic director can make you feel like you are doing the same thing over and over again. Missy and I talk about the Groundhog Day feeling. If you do not know what I am referring to then you need to watch the Bill Murray film, Groundhog Day. It was filmed in my wife’s hometown of Woodstock, Illinois and it is about a weather broadcaster who wakes up every morning doomed to live the same day over again. The same people say the same thing. The same events happen at the same time. At first Bill Murray spends the first half of the film feeling trapped and bored. But as the movie progresses, he starts to see the amazing opportunities that present themselves, and each time he wakes up to the same Sonny and Cher song on his clock radio he does his best to embrace the day with a renewed positivity. It sounds hokey, but when I woke up to my alarm, “Doctor My Eyes” covered by the Jackson 5, I told myself I needed that same positivity as Bill Murray. The road trip to Medford and back can seem long, but there is no guarantee that I am going to have another one. I also know that this is the only one I get with this team. So I figured I would keep my laptop open and I would try to write down the magical moments. Driving south on I-5 I experienced a Groundhog Day moment. One year ago to the day I was in the same seat on a Charter Bus heading south to Medford with the girls varsity soccer team. He tries to see all of the beautiful things that happen and connect with each person. He strives to make the day better for everyone else which makes his experience better.
Below are my notes:
We are four hours from Medford. The girls are relaxing as best as they can and their laughter is infectious. It is the kind of laughter that I don’t hear at OES when I eat with colleagues or talk with parents. It is pure joy. No one is telling jokes. They are jut sharing daily stories and retelling past adventures. It is just teammates, friends excited to be with each other, finding joy in their shared experiences. I don’t think I paid attention to this part of the trip last season. I was focused on answering emails and prepping basketball practice schedules. I was so focused on the logistics of the event I didn’t realize the power of the journey.
Oregon is a big state. The girls continue to laugh and tell stories. Some move seats to retell or share something specific, but mostly the stories are for everyone. No one is wearing headphones now. We are still a ways away, but the music is started to play a little louder. Does any parent like their child’s music?
I just got a text from a ’19 OES parent. “One year ago today! Go ‘varks!” She let me know how much she misses being on the sideline cheering with other families, team dinners, watching her daughter compete. I remember how much my own dad and mom were a little lost after I was done playing. I had moved to California to teach and they didn’t have something on the calendar for every Saturday of the spring season. When I returned to NJ to coach football and lacrosse, my dad was always in the stands. Upon surveying the bus I notice the only ones with their laptops open are the seniors. They are working on the essays and applications that will help them find their next adventure.
Head Coach Justan Wolvert has the game film on in the seat behind me. Every once in a while he will call one of the girls up to his seat. He will show them 5 seconds of a St Mary’s film. Those five seconds are magic. He uses the film to affirm what our OES athlete does well, or he points out an opportunity to try something new. He never belittles the opponent. He always makes it about the OES player and why they are going to be successful. He quietly builds the confidence of each player one at a time. It is masterful how he does it.
This team has experienced adversity. There are several girls who won’t be able to dress today. But I wouldn’t be able to tell you which ones by how they are acting. They are all in. That is obvious. When I first got to OES in 2004 I had a student-athlete tell me that he wasn’t going to come to practice because it was his second sport. He had club soccer and that was his top sport. I told him to quit. If he wasn’t going to commit to his teammates, he didn’t deserve a spot on the roster. It upset a lot of my colleagues. They told me we had a no-cut program. I told them that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have responsibilities to his team. Our girls soccer program doesn’t have any issues about girls understanding that they are accountable to each other. For the last 17 years I have watched leaders like Molly Nakayama'90, Alyssa Gregg'95 Ashley Berman'96, Amy Green'96, Annie Warner'98, Jessica Tsao'05, Carling Leon'09 Hannah Dugoni'12, Hannah Huston'13, Catherine Leon’15 Carolyn Ruoff’15 Mikaleah McKinney-Griggs”16, Ruby Aaron'18, Annika Lovestrand'18, Megan Ruoff'18, Stephanie Finley'19, Joanna Cloutier'19 and countless others ensure that the team holds itself accountable on and off the field. Our captains this year, Sophie and Harper, have continued this commitment to accountability, hard work, and selflessness.
Lunch time! There are blue skies at the rest stop. It is time to fuel. The girls gather at two picnic tables and eat everything from bacon to salad rolls. For the fast eaters, boredom leads to dance sessions. We are two hours from game time and the texts from last year’s seniors start to roll in. Joanna, Maya, Olivia, etc. The class of 2019 lets the current squad know that they are with them both figuratively and digitally. The NFHS network will be streaming in New Hampshire, Maine, California, and Oregon and our college Aardvarks will be watching this year’s rematch with St Mary’s in the semifinals. Our college freshmen have already learned that there is nothing like high school sports. Maybe it is due to the distance from home, or the added independence, or some other reason, but college athletics are not the same. One more hour until we arrive. Back to the bus.
At exit 66 I realize that we are still in Oregon, but this doesn’t look at all like Portland. There is no time for a side trip to Hugo or the Pottsville Museum. Four hours in a bus where I grew up meant you were either in Vermont or Virginia.
Our three freshmen mix up with all of the classes and they separate and return to each other more because they enjoy each other rather than security. They aren’t really freshmen anymore. They are playing in the semifinals of a state tournament. They are critical to the team’s success and they are treated accordingly. It is unique to OES and their experience will shape how they treat next year’s freshmen.
I turn on Todd Mansfield’s broadcast of the boy’s game and the entire bus hangs on his play by play call. Olivia finds the live stream on FACEBOOK, but we decide to rely on Todd’s commentary. We pull in to the field complex and as the girls change and set up their bench area they listen intently on their phones. It is great to see the girls and the boys support each other. Both programs support each other and make the effort to attend each other's games.
With only minutes until the National Anthem and introductions, a group of parents arrive. They let me know they went to the school instead of the game location. I remind them the game location is on the website. Another set of parents arrive and say the same thing. 5 minutes into the game another two parents arrive. Same story. I realize that our website may suck.
The girls begin the game with amazing energy. They line up passes and senior Zoe S fires a rocket to make it OES 1 St Mary’s 0! The dozen Aardvark fans erupt. At the 15 minute mark it hits. All of a sudden we look like we drove 5 hours before the game. The girls continue to make plays, but they look tired. St Mary’s doesn’t adjust and they continue to keep 9 back with the goalie and hope they can create something in transition. The first half ends and the parents shift uncomfortably. OES has dominated possession, and St Mary’s seems content to sit back on defense. But will we have enough in the tank to win this match?
In the second half OES continues to dominate possession, but St Mary’s doesn’t allow the girls to create easy opportunities. Our girls remain poised, but then it happens. The counter attack! St Mary’s transitions to offense. They have the uneven match-up. OES goalie Izzy comes out to confront the attacker who deftly lobs it over her head. The St Mary’s fans begin to scream and the OES fans bellow, “No!” when Grace A'21 sprints in from the backside wing and makes a sliding kick at the goal line to clear the ball away.
OES earns the 1-0 victory. They are going back to the State Championship for the 9th year in a row. It is In and Out time. Burgers and milkshakes, music, and retelling of Grace’s play, Zoe’s goal and countless other moments in the game.
Finally we get on the bus and head north on I-5. Ice packs are handed out. When you play for this long, the body takes a beating. Lights go on and off, but the conversations and the laughter continue steadily for the final 5 hours. It is the final road trip of the season and it seems the girls don’t want to waste a minute of their time together. I am so grateful that I was able to watch the day unfold.
Our two soccer teams will not be the only OES competitors tomorrow. Good luck to 8th graders Mia G and Jackson R as they compete at the USATF-Oregon Junior Olympic Meet at Western Oregon University.
High school basketball and ski racing season begins Monday. Girls basketball will be in the gym and the boys will start in SPARC. Dryland training will meet in the weight room. The best part of playing in the final game is not having to wait around before the next season begins.
Last Friday rocked! It was a cold beautiful autumn day. I had Quinn and Rhiannon in the back seat heading to Tualatin High School for the XC Districts. Our boys and girls ran their final race of the season. Congratulations to our seniors, Ashok and Asa. The only thing more inspiring than watching a student-athlete run as hard as they can for 5KM, is to see their genuine excitement for their teammate's success. The entire running community is racing the clock and collectively they are all focused on racing their best race.
All League and All District teams have been announced:
Volleyball All League
Lewis and Clark Player of the Year
1st Team All Lewis and Clark
2nd Team All Lewis and Clark
Girls Soccer All District
1st Team All Special District 1
2nd Team All Special District 1
Honorable Mention All Special District 1
Boys Soccer All Special District 1
1st Team All Special District 1
2nd Team All Special District 1
Congratulations to 8th graders Jackson R and Mia G!
This weekend boys and girls varsity soccer host state quarterfinal matches!
OES boys soccer vs Riverside 2:00PM on the turf
OES girls soccer vs Blanchet Catholic 5:30PM on the turf
Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for studenta and seniors. OES athletics will cover the admission for all OES students and OES employees!