Missing The Game, Missing The Team

By Jeremy McDonald

jeremymcdonald73@gmail.com

STAYTON, Ore.—  Prior to their last scrimmage against rival Cascade in October, Stayton’s Allie Hlavinka posted up a letter on the ‘Let them Play! Oregonians for Athletes’ page about how she’s wanting nothing more to play the sport she now loves and the struggles they are in staying positive.

It wasn’t until her freshman year that soccer became Hlavinka’s favorite sport.  The girls she played with that year made it really fun and enjoyable as she split time between Junior Varsity and Varsity her freshman and sophomore year before becoming a full-time Varsity player last season.

“Soccer was never my favorite sport until my freshman year, the girls I played with really made it amazing. Having a team like we did that year really changed the game for me, I was challenged more and just fell in love with the sport,” said Hlavinka.  “My most impactful year was junior year; I was challenged with becoming a leader on the back line and that really pushed me to work hard.

“Playing at Stayton has been great, I’ve had lots of support and amazing guidance from coaches, but most importantly my team has always been like a family.”

The Eagles went 7-7-1 and 4-5-1 in the Oregon West Conference Hlavinka’s freshman year, making it to the postseason.  The next year, Stayton made its deepest run-in program history while winning their first-ever conference title; reaching the 4A Quarterfinals before losing a heartbreaker to Valley Catholic 2-0.

Her Junior Year, when it was her turn to be a leader, she reflected on the leadership she’s seen before.  The Nyquist sisters of Alli and KJ and the Plata twins of Kenzie and Kaylee came to mind for her as she took her turn as a leader as a Center Back.

“The Plata’s were all around the hardest working girls out there, they never backed down and always encouraged others, I strive to encourage my teammates like they did,” said Hlavinka.  “Alli was super vocal, which is one of my weaknesses, I’ve been working on that the past few months.

“KJ was always so uplifting and always knew what to say when we were down, so I tried to put my ideas out there when the team needed a leader.  As a center back, being vocal, telling people where to go and who to cover is really important, so it’s crucial I learn to be louder.”

Her Junior Year, when it was her turn to be a leader, she reflected on the leadership she’s seen before.  The Nyquist sisters of Alli and KJ and the Plata twins of Kenzie and Kaylee came to mind for her as she took her turn as a leader as a Center Back.

“The Plata’s were all around the hardest working girls out there, they never backed down and always encouraged others, I strive to encourage my teammates like they did,” said Hlavinka.  “Alli was super vocal, which is one of my weaknesses, I’ve been working on that the past few months.

“KJ was always so uplifting and always knew what to say when we were down, so I tried to put my ideas out there when the team needed a leader.  As a center back, being vocal, telling people where to go and who to cover is really important, so it’s crucial I learn to be louder.”

Stayton was able to get two scrimmages in during the initial ‘Season 1’ season. The Eagles have made the last three 4A State Playoffs (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Hlavinka was a second-team All-OWC Defense selection as a Junior last year as the Eagles went 11-4-1 and 9-2-1 in league.  Splitting with eventual 4A Champions in Woodburn 1-2 and 4-2 respectively, handing the Bulldogs one of their two losses on the year with Stayton reaching the first-round of the 4A Playoffs.

Their play-in victory over Klamath Union at home, a 3-1 win, was one of the memorable moments for Hlavinka as the Eagles made it to the postseason for the third-straight year.

“My favorite memory has to be winning the Klamath Union game last year, I just remember us all being so happy and it was an amazing feeling after winning,” said Hlavinka.  “It was amazing, everyone just jumped and screamed, I remember running and jumping into Megan Campbell.”

The next game however…heartbreak happened.  Just as they rallied back from 2-0 down to force overtime against North Marion in Woodburn, a late foul in the box gave the Huskies a PK opportunity.  Hitting the shot and ending the Stayton season in the first-round.

But it motivated the Eagles as they entered their first year under Head Coach Skip Collins and looking for another strong season.  Taking advantage of the Season 1 by working out as a team and having two full-length scrimmages.

“The North Marion game didn’t end as we wanted it to but I think we really improved and played well against them during our recent scrimmage. The drive was definitely there, we just needed to work more as a team and I think that drive is gonna stick with us through the season if we get it,” said Hlavinka.

“Coach is super encouraging and preaches hard work over talent, I think he will help guide the younger athletes to success. He also encourages us seniors to be leaders and be a family. Looking back at all of our accomplishments and hard work, I am so proud of my teammates and myself for pushing through anything and proving that we can win, I loved every second of it.”

For Hlavinka, all she wants is to see her team and play together.  The back-and-forth of ‘we’re going back’ and ‘it’s not happening’ has been hard.  But it has taught her how much love she actually has for the sport because of that team atmosphere they’ve created and how much the game is just that:

A Team Sport.

And as they all hope that the February time frame holds strong, Hlavinka can’t wait to get back with her team later this Winter and being a leader for the Eagles once more.

“Honestly just seeing my team and playing together is all I want, it’s been really hard being told we’re going back then being told that’s not happening over and over. The positive things are being able to get together with my team and just have fun together,” said Hlavinka.  “It’s shown me that I love the game because of the team atmosphere we’ve created and that it is a sport that you cannot win on your own. This has made me value my team and their different assets more. I’ve grown with these girls and all I want is to play a senior season with them

“I hope to show the younger girls that hard work pays off and not to quit when it gets tough, it’s been a tough three years for Stayton soccer, we fought to get to the playoffs and I hope the younger girls can carry that on. I want them all to know that they can be amazing if they put their mind to it.”

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