By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.–With the sun beating down around the nearly completed turf field, the McKay Volleyball and Cross Country teams lend a helping hand by fixing the fences thorugh some green plastic threads through the fence holes Thursday afternoon.
“It’s pretty cool because I was too here for when we broke ground so it’s pretty cool to see the progress,” said senior volleyball player Janessa Torres.
“It’s cool, it’s exciting,” said Cross Country athlete Sam Harding. “It’s fun, it’s like you getting to see the work happen so it’s like a difference (happening).”
For Torres’ volleyers, this upcoming season should be an improved one as they look to build off of their 2016 success that saw them lay the foundation for this season.
“I feel like the chemistry between the girls is really close this year,”said Torres. “So I feel like that help and also we had the decidcation through the summer. A lot of us were in here working, so I’m excited.”
The Lady Scots had gained valuable experience playing at Blanchet Catholic over the summer, playing against the three-time Oregon West Conference Champions Cascade of 4A, the Top two teams in the PacWest in the Champions in the Lady Cavs and second-place Salem Academy from 3A as well as playing Greater Valley Conference opponent North Salem to name a few.
“Just getting to learn how to play together is really helpful and just getting that experience,” said Shay Coons on the experience with the jamboree at McNary coming up on August 24.
Head Coach Scott Coons points to how far along the team is right now entering the season than they were in season’s past, which is going to allow them to develop more offensive plays and adjust better in-game from the beginning rather than later on in the season.
“I think we’re starting out farther ahead than where we started in the past,” said Coons. “I think this year, we’re starting out with a more solid group that understands the game better, so that’s going to allow us to move forward with some higher level stuff at the beginning, which is a great thing.
“And then from our freshman group to our JV group, the competitiveness in Try-Outs is way higher than it was in the past. So we’re coming in with girls that know the game far better and it’s just allowing us to do new things.”
In Cross Country, the Scots are bringing in some fast freshman to their ranks as they are hovering in the high-30’s in numbers with the hopes of hitting 40 athletes this season with the Wilsonville Night Meet coming up August 25.
“I love having the bigger team, that’s been the goal over the last few years was to build the team, and once we build the team and then we’ll build the records,” said Head Coach Jason Zellick.
And with the new faces, it’s up to the older guys to help leave their mark and help improve the younger guys as they come up through the ranks.
“Just keep encouraging them, if they feel like giving up just tell them it’s not worth giving up, just keep pushing,” said Harding on how the upperclassmen can help the incoming freshman this year.
Allen Sotelo, who finished fifth in the 3,000 meters at the GVC Track and Field Districts this past Spring will be one of the big names on the guys side along with Ismael Hernandez, Erick Brambila, Evan Doster, and the return of number one runner in Juan Heredia will help lead McKay on the guys side.
“For the boys, I hope every score if not maybe even my Top 7, are faster than my number one was last year. That is the goal,” said Zellick on the guys side.
On the girls side, Hanna Caldwell returns for her junior season as well as Jesse Garcia as a solid top return runner for the Lady Scots in 2017 to help lead Jenny Ho and company.
Maddy Jacobson said Zellick will be one to watch for on the girls side as well for McKay after a rough junior season.
“She is one that I am hoping that really blossoms again, she kind of had a rough junior year, but she’s looking really, really good in the summer,” said Zellick as Everrets tosses over some weeds from underneath the stands. “And I’m hoping…I think that this might be a team that’ll surprise some people, but we’re working, that’s it. That’s all we’re doing, we’re working and seeing what comes out of it.”
And as the teams finished up for the day, Athletic Director Jerimy Kelley enjoyed seeing the teams, wheither it was football helping roll out the turf strips or the Volleyball and Cross Country teams putting the strips of green plastic through the fence, it shows the school spirt of the kids putting in the work for their school.
“It’s awesome, they are able to show how much pride they have for their school, their community and in their teams,” said Kelley. “It’s a way for them to be involved in giving back, I think it’s just amazing, it shows the kinds of kids we have.”
Kelley too put in the work as well, alongside Track Head Coach Curt Everretts, Zellick and Coons as a way too lead by example for the student body and the community as well.
“I believe in student leadership, or servant leadership, so if I’m going to ask people to come help and be involved and do things, I’ll be right alongside them and doing it,” said Kelley. “You know, it’s just apart of the community and give people opportunities to help give back.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald