Finding Opportunities To Improve

By Jeremy McDonald

SPRINGFIELD, Ore.– With traditional football considered ‘taboo’, many gridiron stars are looking elsewhere to get their name out there and getting those valuable reps in until they are able to return to the field.

That means showcases, 7-on-7’s, all to get that improvement at their position.  Getting better with their strengths and improving on their weaknesses’.

“It was good to see where I sit more than anything else.  It’s good to get good competition from Cali(fornia) and stuff.  It was nice,” said Sprague’s Drew Rodriguez.  “It’s been fun going up against competition, a bunch of good guys that got D-1 offers.  It’s nice.”

Rodriguez took part in roughly four showcases, including The Opening where he was rated fourth overall with a score of 85.44.  The event, held in Portland last month, put athlete’s through four testing events in a combine-like setting.

The competition, no matter if it’s a combine or a 7-on-7 tournament, helps out during the time where their next game isn’t promised and guaranteed.

Rodriguez lining up at receiver in GymClub’s Pool Play finale against B12P Saturday morning (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

“Oh it’s fun putting in the time against big competition.  Playing with these Washington players gets us prepared for college,” said South Salem’s Tini Tinitali.  “Reps are everything, I love getting out there.  It helps improve my game.”

It’s an interesting fact, both Tinitali and Rodriguez played together at Judson Middle School a few years ago and have been friends since the sixth-grade.  Both are sophomore’s now at their respective schools, but it’s always nice to play with each other once more playing with the GymClub 7-on-7 squad this past Sunday in Springfield.

“Yeah, it’s pretty cool, we’re both playmakers and being on the same side as a good player…same great as me too,” said Tinitali.

“I’ve been friends with Tini since like fifth-grade, it’s pretty cool.  He’s a good football player, it’s fun,” adds Rodriguez.

Sunday the two South Salem-area skill players helped alleviate the pressure off West Albany Tight End TJ Zimmerman by giving McNary Quarterback Jack McCarty more than one option against their opponents.  Playing in the MVP Performance Center MVP Turkey Bowl 2020, splitting their two bracket games after a slow start in the day during the morning session.

GymClub went 1-4 Saturday, reaching the Tournament Semi-Finals, before falling in the single-elimination bracket put on by the MVP Performance Center (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

As the day wrapped up entering the Winter, there’s still a lot to work on for the Duo from the South Salem region moving into hopefully a Spring Tackle Football season.

For Rodriguez, he is comfortable with his deep routes at the moment.  But it’s the shorter routes he knows he can improve upon.

“Short routes.  Outs (route), slants, just working on everything,” said Rodriguez.

Tinitali looks at it as an opportunity to get better on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.

“I can definitely work on my defense and getting off press (coverage),” Tinitali said. “As a wide receiver, you really do what you do in 7-on expect you’re taking a hit after making a catch instead of getting tagged.  So, it really helps my routes and my coverage.”

GymClub, and the rest of the Island Boy Club organization, will be hosting their 11th-annuel Turkey Bowl Game Sunday December 6.

Photos By Jeremy McDonald


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