By Jeremy McDonald
SILVERTON, Ore.– Silverton freshman Justina Semerikov knows a thing or two of success entering Silverton High School.
Since moving to Scotts Mills in 2015 from Mentor, Minnesota Semerikov has been apart of league champions in basketball (seventh and eighth-grade), Volleyball in eighth-grade. Her team won the Silverton jamboree against bigger schools from around the area.
On top of that, she’s also a softball player. Playing with the Oregon Rebels 16U-Gonzalez team and actually went 1-for-3 in the Rebels doubleheader Friday in Arizona.
“Being a well-rounded athlete is so important to me because I want to be the best I can be in each sport and by doing all these different activities I have to be well put together, athletic, and well-rounded as an athlete for everything to work in my favor,” Semerikov said. “Every different sport requires different strengths and physical challenges, and being able to say I have all of that is so incredibly big for me.
“Walking into Silverton and just seeing what they’ve accomplished from previous years is amazing and I want to be and feel like I’m a part of that. I feel at home and the coaches have helped me a tremendous amount with everything and I’m pumped to play with them. And adjusting from playing middle school ball and tournament team to High School is for most probably nerve-wracking, but I feel ready to play. I’ve felt that I’ve put in the work and obviously there’s so much more work to be put in from all of us, but it’s definitely a good start and I look forward to it.”
As many kids walking into the Foxes Athletic Programs knows, expectations are high. Softball reached the 5A State Semi-Finals twice since the 2014-2015 season and Girls Basketball have been front-and-center and have reached the final site the last six seasons with a State Championship to boot back during the 2015-2016 season.
This summer has provided an opportunity for Sermerikov to adjust to the demands of what Head Coach Tal Wold and his staff want while they are in his program. For the young Fox, there was some nerves initially having looking forward to this moment since the Sermerikov Family moved to Oregon when she was in the fourth-grade, but it’s something she has gotten use to thanks to being around the coaching staff.
“I thought I’d come in my freshman year for basketball a nervous wreck, I’ve been looking forward to this moment since I moved to Oregon in the fourth grade and I didn’t want to mess anything up,” Sermerikov starts. “But working with the coaching staff all summer and becoming more acquainted with the girls it undoubtedly feels like a home. One that I get to be a part of for four years.
“I can truthfully say now that I’m not even the slightest bit nervous for what’s to come. I know I have a long road ahead of me, a lot to work on, and a lot to learn, but I also know I have a wonderful support group right alongside me and I’m super ecstatic to start playing and to grow as a team and as an individual.”
Her older brother Isaac, who’s been around guys like Levi Nielson and David Gonzales, helped her in the right direction hooking them up with a trainer. Helping her with the finer details of the game, the footwork and ball-handling skills.
To have her brother there with her, reminding the younger Sermerikov what it takes as Justina joins a Silverton squad that have been to the Final Site the past six years.
“Athletes need a drive. They need something or someone to want to get better off of, and for me that’s Isaac, we support each other but I also want to be better than him,” Semerikov said. “I want to show him in the future that all the work I put in, all the work that he helped me put in ended up with me doing something great.
“By having that person who’s there urging you to do that extra set or to do one more rep when you feel like your arms are going to fall off, that’s huge. And for me that’s Isaac. Now that I’ve officially entered high school it just proves to show how much he’s helped.”
During the extending offseason, Sermerikov has been juggling open gym, basketball tournaments in Idaho and travel softball. This weekend and next are busy for her with both a basketball tournament in Idaho and travel softball in Arizona, it’s difficult to juggle the two but she’s making do with both.
But it gives her an opportunity to work on the finer details in both sports. Adjusting to faster pitchers in softball to working on her ball handling and keeping the ball moving.
Also too, this extended offseason has helped her with her mental game. Big thing for her next four years at Silverton where the lights are even brighter.
“Improving and seeing progress is a big thing for me. It’s where I get my motivation. Why would someone want to work on something so hard and see no results? I think as an athlete I want to improve my mental game,” said Sermerikov. “I can’t let small things affect me, head up after a bad play, a strikeout, a big loss. Head up. It’s a small thing but the second you improve your mental game and you get that grit, you’re going to be solid and your athletic performance will improve.”