By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– The rain rolled in onto the turf field at West Salem High School Wednesday afternoon.
It was their second training session of the new calendar year, and it felt like a late season practice with the weather that it had brought on this early-January afternoon in Salem.
“Oh it’s very nice. I definitely miss the high school (game) because it’s completely different from club and it kind of sucks. I didn’t know if I was going to get my last year of the High School experience, but it feels so good to be out here and I still get that now,” said Madison McDougal.
About 14 athletes, including McDougal, came out to the workout Wednesday. Mask on and prepare for what is to come hopefully on the other side of next month.
McDougal, who like a handful of soccer players this offseason, had played with the mask during club season at clubs like Capital Football Club (CFC). Adjusting to the new rules surrounding the game itself even, all to getting in some valuable reps in hopes for a season ahead.
“So much about life is different than we’re used to and so it’s nice to get out there and go play club soccer like I’ve been used to my whole life. Distract myself from not being able to play High School, not going to school (in-person) and making sure I’m on top of everything,” said McDougal, who was a second-team Forward as a sophomore in the Mountain Valley Conference.
McDougal’s Junior season, the midfielder was a part of one of the most successful Titan programs in program history if not the most with the team reaching the 6A State Semi-Final round before falling to the eventual 6A State Champions in Jesuit.
“It was a really good experience for everyone,” McDougal starts. “It made it so much more fun, I’ve been playing with those girls for years now because half of them were on my club team too and it made us feel like so accomplished and really proud for what we worked for. We accomplished what we worked for.”
There were leaders on that team she learned from. The Sarah Rice’s, Paige Alexander’s and Abby Knoll’s that
“They definitely show me a lot. Abby was more of ‘show by example’, she showed us by example of what we should be doing. Paige was always there to hype you up and make sure you’re performing at your best at all times,” McDougal said. “Those are some things I want to be like.
“I think just for High School, it’s a big difference because I’m the oldest person so it comes more naturally.”
West Salem graduated nine Seniors from that Semi-finalist squad from 2019. But with a few returners like a McDougal returning this year, it’s important for them to bridge last season’s successes to this season and beyond will be crucial to continue to propel the program stronghold moving forward.
“We’ll have to go into games, we’re a completely different team now. We’ve lost a lot of Seniors, but we have to go in knowing that we can be as good as we were,” said McDougal. “Creating a good team bond is very important. Working together.”
First day of try-outs are scheduled for February 22 with the first games of the season slated for March 1.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald