By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.—Being the child of a local legend coach can be hard, yet beneficial if you want to take advantage of it.
Santiam’s Jenessa Leon’s dad, Robert, is well-known around the Stayton and Cascade High School soccer scene. Having been an assistant coach at Stayton and Cascade in recent years with the girl’s programs.
The younger Leon has embraced taking in input from her father, always communicating with the elder Leon on how she can improve and run drills on her own.
“He’s been a huge help. It’s really nice of him to give me a chance to play here and be able to drive me 35 (minutes)-to-an-hour just to practice,” said Jenessa Leon. “It’s really nice.”
In 2A, there are only five soccer programs. Some schools, like a Western Christian (2A) and Perrydale (1A) would join forces to form a team. At Santiam, where Leon plays basketball for the Wolverines, there’s no girls’ soccer team. For Leon, she would have to transfer to participate in the High School scene.
The next best thing is to play Club Soccer, making the trip from their home down to the Capital FC facility where Leon is a member of the CFC 02 Team. Playing with girls from West Salem, Sprague and Woodburn.
On Halloween, the Wolverine Junior had played opposite the Olympians Aspen DeConcini for half of the game. Leon was playing left mid-and-forward, DeConcini on the right side as the CFC squad won 2-0 on Halloween night.
“It’s really opened me up from what the girls that come here…they show me what their playing style is playing,” said Leon. “It’s really nice that I get to come over here and play with everybody.”
Leon admitted too that the Portland squad exposed a weakness in her game that the Santiam Junior was able to work on in being more physical, tougher with the ball. Improving throughout the match to match the intensity she was facing whenever she touched the ball.
In the first half, I got a little intimidated by how big the girls were. But once our assistant coach talked to me about staying on my feet and just using my legs and body them up when I get the ball,” said Leon. “This game was really tough. They really challenged me and my team.”
It’s something for Leon to improve on. That and communicating more to her teammates as they return to training in preparation of their next match.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald