By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– In Stayton, Soccer is King. And Head Coach Chris Shields is front-and-center of it.
But also too, it’s family. Everyone that has heard the Shields voice from the sideline during their time in the Eagles uniform, tends to come back to support their younger counterparts. Wednesday afternoon, it felt as if it was the olden days of playing out on the grass field in between the baseball, football and softball fields as they tried to get their workout session in before it got dark.
“We got to make the most of what we can. We got to share the field sometimes even so we just come out here and put in work no matter what we get and the circumstances. We try to put in as much work in every training session,” said Omar Renteria.
Renteria is known for his fiery passion. Driven for his love of the game that he has been playing since he was roughly three years old. Translating that over to the pitch, and though it’s mellowed out a bit over the years, he thanks his coaches through the years that made the Senior
“Yeah it’s built me into the player I am. Strong mentality, I’m always looking to win. I hate losing, I learn a lot from them through the years. Especially Shields, I’ve spent ten-plus years with him, it’s crazy,” Renteria starts.
“I have a lot to thank for my coaches that I’ve had.”
As a seventh-grader under Stayton Middle School Head Coach Josh Crain, he was part of the Vikings team that went 16-0. Renteria was one of nine players from that same team that played in the 2019 4A State Title game against Woodburn on November 16, 2019 under Shields.
Playing for Shields, there’s a lot of demands. There are high expectations in games as well as during practice feeds into that passion that someone like a Renteria has and shows on a regular basis.
“He’s a crazy coach, but he’s a good coach,” smiled Renteria, a first-team All Oregon West Conference Field position player in 2019, about his coach. “He’s pretty crazy though. But yeah, he teaches you a lot, he doesn’t like anyone slacking off and he wants everyone to give 100-percent. Practices have to be intense.
“He has to like them or you’re running for the rest of practice. He’s the type of guy he is.”
With January drawing to a close, Stayton’s are about five-, six-weeks away from starting their shortened-season. For Renteria, it made him more appreciative of what he had entered quarantine back in March as he kept seeing the season getting pushed further back towards graduation.
It’s not promised, but just being out there like on Wednesday at least made him feel like he was doing something and gave him something to look forward to and work for. All of them felt like they have something to work for as they prepare for what is to hopefully come in March.
“It’s kind of getting back to normal in my schedule playing all the time, but I did realize how much this game really means to me and how much I miss it. How much I missed it during quarantine,” Renteria starts. “Every game is going to be 100-percent from everybody. We’re going to have quite (a good) amount of Seniors this year so I’m hoping everyone’s on the same page and trying to get to the same goal as everybody and win a State Title.
“Hopefully egos don’t collide and hopefully we have a great season. Build chemistry over the games.”
And when that first whistle blows hopefully the first week of March, from passion to hard work. Family environment and Shields yelling from the sidelines. Fans watching at home or along the fence line if they’re able, all to watch their team put in work on Game Day will come to fruition and will be put front-and-center.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald