By Jeremy McDonald
TURNER, Ore.–For those who know who Mariah Hollenbeck is as a person, they can tell you that she’s a team-first person before she’ll ever talk about her game and her play.
You’ve heard that from coaches and those close to Hollenbeck Wednesday morning into afternoon at Cascade High School as, going as against the grain as you can, it was Hollenbeck’s turn to have the spotlight solely on her instead of her and her teammates.
But, as the Senior said a few quick words, around the room her teammates were there. Coaches were there, so you saw some relief on the 5’10 seniors mannerisms were tense, but were also relaxed knowing her teammates were there to support her as she supported them this past season.
“I mean it wasn’t that awkward but I had my team up there with me mentally,” said Hollenbeck with a smile. “Then they came up there physically to take pictures so that made me feel a little bit better.”
“It’s awesome,” Hollenbeck added on all the support there in the library Wednesday. “It’s pretty cool and pretty unique to have some amazing people in my life, I’m blessed.”
The journey for Hollenbeck was interesting entering this year, having transferred from Stayton to Cascade, everyone knew the transition would be hard. But as Head Girls Basketball Coach Mark Stevens pointed out, she adjusted pretty well as she jumped right into the Lady Cougars Volleyball and Basketball Starting Lineups in her lone season with the school.
“It wasn’t that hard. I like meeting new people and stuff,” said Hollenbeck on the adjustment of changing schools. “I feel like I adjusted pretty well and as they talked about me I adjusted pretty well as a new student.”
Then her new Head Coach, Chemeketa’s Kevin McCarrell, echoed what Stevens and Athletic Director Heidi Hermansen said of the senior right before she signs her Letter of Intent to play for the Storm this upcoming season.
The decision was a tough one, Volleyball or Basketball. She was great in both sports during her prep career; however, the decision came down to Basketball and to live out her dream as a child to play the sport at the next level.
“I know when I was little I always dreamed about playing basketball at the collegiate level so I just wanted to play at the collegiate level for basketball,” said Hollenbeck on deciding on the two sports. “And I knew if Volleyball came, I would try Volleyball instead.
“It’s closer to home and I just liked it and I just loved the teammates and all the girls that I played with at Open Gym,” she added on why she committed to Chemeketa.
As she joins a soon-to-be-sophomore heavy Chemeketa squad that finished 7-20 overall and 4-12 NWAC South that features Umpqua CC (29-3, 16-0), Hollenbeck was taking pictures with her Cascade teammates one last time and was hearing about two-, and three-a-days from mother Melissa and Cougars Volleyball Head Coach Cristina Williams.
Speaking of the elder Hollenbeck; during the 1990s, Melissa Hollenbeck played basketball at Clackamas Community College under now-Head Coach, then-assistant coach, Jim Martineau.
As for the weirdness of playing against the coach who once coached her mom, Mariah smiles and shrugs it off.
“It’s pretty weird,” said Mariah with a laugh. “But it’s alright I guess.”
For right now though, it’s back to the tennis courts as Co-Captians of the Lady Cougars Tennis Team, something that she’s pretty proud of as she closes out her prep career.
“It’s pretty cool,” Hollenbeck with a big smile. “i enjoy it a lot.”
Photos Of Mariah’s Signing Day (Pictures By Jeremy McDonald)