Best Of 2020

By Jeremy McDonald

As the year draws to a close, usually it means a time to reflect.  For me, I usually like to share a few stories I wrote over the past 12 months that have some significance to them from the year.  With how 2020 has been, it’s hard to imagine even ten months ago we were having State Wrestling and 1A-3A were preparing for their State Tournaments runs in Baker City, Pendleton and Coos Bay respectively.

Western Christian (2A) Boys basketball and St. Paul (1A) girls basketball finished Runner-Up at the State Basketball tournaments. Dayton (3A) wrestling finished State Wrestling Runner-Up as a team and Cascade (4A) was fourth. Teams in 4A-6A like South Salem Girls, Silverton, Woodburn and North Marion were looking for that State Title when the Pandemic hit in Mid-March.

But since March, some light at the end of the tunnel emerged.  The ‘Be the Light’ movement.  Gervais honored a long-time coach and beloved family member in Pablo Jaramillo at one of the ‘Be the Lights’, giving Jaramillo his own ten minutes after the 20 for the Class of 2020.

Outdoor sports slowly returned.  Some School Spring Sports honored their Seniors about the time Graduation was supposed to happen.  Baseball and Softball All-Star Games at Volcanoes Stadium and in Canby. 7-on-7, All-Comer Meets in Springfield and Quad Leagues in Salem came and went as we tried to find some sense of normalcy through these crazy times. The Portland Pickles created a Summer league, taking place at North Marion High School that gave Junior College and College-aged kids an opportunity to put in some work on the diamond.

Gervais’ Izzy Boyd lines up at the Free Throw line against Stanfield in the 2A State First Round. The Cougars pulled away in the fourth to go to Pendleton for the first time since 1995 (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

North Marion had some form of a Homecoming Week but rented out their football field to have Brute Volleyball and Powderpuff Football back in October.  Acting like game managers to make it happen.  Amity and Dallas each had Volleyball fundraisers for specific causes in October as well, raising money to lend a helping hand to those in need. 

The Amity Volleyball Club, with their indoor Quads league raised $750 for the Santiam Canyon Relief Fund while the Dragons raised over $4,000 for Breast Cancer Awareness and the Salem Health Women’s Imaging Center.

All of this while athletes braved the travel out-of-State to play basketball and wrestle, getting those valuable reps for the hopes, like many of athletes, parents and fans, of a season in 2021.

Here are some eight notable stories plus their story-links:

Saving Homecoming Week (Saving Homecoming Week – JMcDonaldMedia):  Wanting to make sure that them, the Class of 2021, and those younger than them have a Homecoming; the North Marion Senior Class went the extra mile by renting out the football field, getting the proper insurance and charging admission.  Acting as Game Managers to make Homecoming 2020 happen.

Baseball and softball, through travel sports and All-Star Games over the Summer and into the Fall. Jefferson’s Isacc Deleon (pictured) dawned his Lions baseball jersey one last time in the 2020 Senior Day games at Volcanoes Stadium in August (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Santiam Rides Hot Hand For Fourth-Place (Santiam Rides Hot Hand For Fourth-Place – JMcDonaldMedia):  Following their gutsy win the day before at Pendleton High School against Coquille to avoid elimination, the Wolverines remembered what their coaches told them as they jumped on Central Valley Conference-winner Oakland as Santiam closed out their season with a fourth-place finish in 2A.

Kennedy Brings Home 2A State Title (Kennedy Brings Home 2A State Title – JMcDonaldMedia):  The Trojans finished a dominant 26-4 season by setting a tone early against Monroe at the Pendleton Convention Center in one of the final games before the pandemic hit a few days later.  Winning their second State Title in three-years in March of 2020.

Ortiz Rallies To Finish Fifth At State (Ortiz Rallies For Fifth At State – JMcDonaldMedia):  At the last big Tournament at Veterans Coliseum in Portland, South Salem’s Julian Ortiz edged the second-seeded Johnny Normani from Tigard for fifth-place at 285.  Capping his wrestling career fighting through the blood-rounds to place in his final State Appearance.

Julian Ortiz battled through the ‘blood-rounds’ in the 285-pound bracket to finish fifth in 6A . The State Wrestling, Swimming and 1A-3A Boys and Girls basketball tournaments were completed before the cancelation of the rest of the High School Sports scene in the Spring. (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Gervais Honors One Of Their Own (Gervais Honors One Of Their Own Friday – JMcDonaldMedia):  With Gervais wrapping up their ‘Be The Light’ Event May 1, the Cougars honored an fallen local icon in Pablo Jaramillo, who had passed away earlier that week.   Giving the local coach and beloved family member his own ten minutes for Jaramillo, who was described as a humble individual.

Getting Back Into The Gym(Getting Back Into The Gym – JMcDonaldMedia):  In an unique approach, the NPJ Volleyball Club held a ‘Quads’ league that allowed volleyball athletes an opportunity to get back into the gym in a safe manner to stay active.  The NPJ hosted the face masked, socially distant volleyers in two-, four-week sessions over the Fall.

Final Time In The Uniform (Final Time In The Uniform – JMcDonaldMedia): Similar to the Softball All-Star Game in Canby, the Boys of Summer too had one last chance to compete in their High School Uniforms at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer back in August.

Many schools took advantage of the Season 1 workouts by holding scrimmages to get some live-action reps. Either doing Volleyball, like Perrydale pictured here, 7-on football or soccer, sports slowly were coming back (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Playing For A Cause (Playing For A Cause – JMcDonaldMedia):  The Dallas Lady Dragons would normally host a ‘Pink-Out’ Event every October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, raising money for the occasion.  Donating the money to the Salem Health Women’s Imaging Center.  They opened up their sand volleyball pits, built over the Summer, for 12 Co-Ed teams to help raise money in 2020.  Even though a team from their rival-Central won the tournament, the Dragons raised $4,200 for the Salem Health Women’s Imaging Center.

Scio’s Workinger Surpasses 1,200 Career Points (Workinger Surpasses 1,200 Career Points Wednesday – JMcDonaldMedia): The Last time Scio had a scorer reach 1,200 points, was 1975 when Gregg McDonald did so. Setting a then-School record. For the first time since 1975, a Logger surpassed the total against Molalla on February 12 before breaking McDonald’s record five days later against Blanchet Catholic.

Volleyball For A Good Cause (Volleyball For A Good Cause) – JMcDonaldMedia): Similar to Dallas, Amity used this Fall and Volleyball to help for a good cause. Raising money and accepting donations for the Santiam Canyon Relief Fund and promoting Suicide Awareness during their two-day tournament at Amity Middle School. The Amity Volleyball Club, which had teams from Amity, Willamina and Yamhill-Carlton, raised $750 for the Santiam Canyon Wildfire Relief and had filled a dozen grocery bags in canned food.

2020 has been a tough year no doubt. There’s no sugar coating it, no denying it. But here’s the thing, as one tough chapter closes, a better one starts. Let’s make 2021 a great year.

Photos By Jeremy McDonald

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