By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– It’s always been a personal community at the Western Christian campus. From the soccer field down the wood steps. The packed basketball gym and lining the backstop during baseball and softball games.
And the thing too is that they travel too. Something that stuck out to Senior Rylan Webster.
“I would personally say that sports are such a fun time at Western. The community that we have always supports all of the sports so well,” Webster starts. “The thing about us and our fans as well is the fact that it could be a home game, or it could be an away game and we will still have the same number of fans.
“We get so much support as student athletes from everyone at our school and in our community. Being that small school and small community, we are all so friendly and close with each other too.”
The multi-sport athlete has played for the legendary boys basketball coach in Gary Hull, played on some playoff teams as a goalkeeper on the boys soccer team and as a pitcher and catcher for the baseball team. Facing some tough competition from 1A to 3A in the three sports.
Memories are hard to come by, but going to Pendleton for basketball and going to State with his brother Sean in baseball stick out to him the most.
“I could go on and on about all of the amazing things about Western Christian and playing sports there,” Webster said.
Webster’s older brother Sean was also the starting keeper for the Pioneer soccer team before Rylan took over the duties his sophomore year in 2018 with Western Christian reached the 3A/2A/1A State Quarterfinals and the first-round last season as a Junior.
The younger Webster caught the elder Webster’s one-hitter in Reno, Nevada on July 1, 2018 when both played for the Triple-A American Legion Withnell Dodgers, based out of Salem.
“Man, that game was such a blast to catch. First of all, I would say that it isn’t too often that you get to catch for your brother. On top of that where he has an amazing outing,” Rylan Webster said. “It was an amazing game and I’m pretty sure we were all having a blast that game. Our bats were on, and so was our pitching. There’s not much more you can ask for.”
It capped a year where Webster was a freshman on a Western Christian team that reached the 2A/1A State First round before falling to eventual State Runner-Up Pilot Rock/Ukiah. The next year the Pios, with a young team, were a game away from possibly returning for a third-year before falling in the final game of the year against the upstart Santiam Wolverines from Mill City.
But it was still a good learning experience entering what would have been his Junior season.
“We were still a fairly young team my Sophomore year as we graduated several seniors so there were definitely some holes we had to fill. We definitely grew as players and as a team to get in the right mindset to get back to state after that year too,” said Webster. “I was really looking forward to what my Junior year had in store for the baseball program. Sadly, we did not get to compete though.”
The Coronavirus Pandemic had canceled his junior season, but it had given Webster an opportunity to heal up after suffering a torn labrum.
The injury set him back a bit, but it allowed the Senior catcher an opportunity to find ways to stay in it. Eventually traveling to Idaho to compete in the Elite Exposure showcase in Idaho Falls.
“I have been working on my strength and shoulder health for months now getting to the point where I’m stronger and better than ever. I did get to attend that showcase in Idaho recently which was such a good breath of fresh air and so amazing to be able to play baseball again,” Webster starts. “I honestly felt like I did pretty good. My hitting was a bit rusty, but then again, I hadn’t been hitting live in almost a year.
“I could definitely improve on my approach to the plate. I would say my blocking, throw downs, and overall defensive side of catching went really good.”
And as he enters the chances of one last season, it starts first with soccer where Webster has seen the rise of Dayton, Delphian of Sheridan and Taft from the coast hanging around towards the top with Western Christian as the soccer is slated to start in about six weeks.
Baseball is to follow entering April as he is excited to embrace anytime on the pitch, diamond or court.
“It has been such a great time. I honestly have so much fun playing in the soccer games and the competition we get to play against. Our coaching staff and players are some really genuine and awesome guys too,” Webster said. “I will be cherishing every single moment I have that I’m out on the baseball field, soccer field or basketball court. We have lost so much over the past year, so every single moment playing sports will be enjoyed.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald