By Jeremy McDonald
SCIO, Ore.– It was their second open gym since the big ice storm that hit the Willamette Valley over the Valentine’s Weekend Wednesday evening. It’s crazy to imagine the boat that the Scio Four have found themselves in.
Pandemic ended their Junior Year on a sour note and it carried over to their Senior Year. Fires in the Fall, second lockdown in the Winter and that ice storm entering what is promised to be a six-week season. Even that’s not promised depending on case numbers.
Adversity makes you better, and the Scio Four in Alexus Franklin, Laurel Otto, Ashlynne Ziebert and Bailey Davis, embracing each day like it’s their last will be crucial with the craziness swirling around them.
“With COVID it really taught us that we can take whatever we are given you know. We started practicing (in the Fall) and then had to stop. It’s crazy how you can miss everything you got to experience every year and now being your Senior Year. We always looked forward to this, like having Senior Night,” Davis said. “We’re super thankful to get an opportunity to play.”
Davis and Otto each swung up to Varsity as freshman back during the 2017-2018 season, the squad went 15-7 overall and 9-3 in the old PacWest Conference. Reaching the 3A State postseason, and the third time since 2010 that a Logger Volleyball program reached the postseason having reached the postseason in 2010 and 2016 at that time.
And as you can imagine, it was an eye-opening experience even though the dream was making Varsity freshman year.
“I remember back in eighth-grade it was my dream, Varsity freshman year. Bailey and I attended club together, we both went through it together to get to that level,” Otto said. “Making Varsity freshman year, it kind of opened our eyes of what we wanted to do in High School.
“So, it was a really good experience to see how the upperclassmen ran it. Now that we’re up here, we get to follow in their footsteps.”
The biggest thing that Otto mentioned was mixing in that hard-nose that those Seniors had during that freshman year and mixing in that friendliness, remembering what it was like freshman year with how intimidating it was going out to the court for a play.
“I remember the Seniors my freshman year, they definitely put us in our place,” laughed Otto. “I’ll try to be more friendly and more open to the team rather than put people down. Being that person that…just being a leader in general. Positive role model for people. I remember going to Varsity freshman year, it was a tough role because I didn’t know any of the girls.
“It was intimating and I’m trying to be that open, friendly person to everyone. So that you’re not scared to come onto the court, it’s more of a fun-serious (moment).”
For Franklin, she was the lone Senior playing with the Ramsay sisters of Taryn and Kenna as well as Addy Wessels and Kadence Soto in a Quads league at the Battlecreek location of the Courthouse Gyms in South Salem over the Fall. Putting in those extra reps in with her teammates in hopes of a season.
Since their freshman year, they barely missed the postseason as sophomores while going 14-8 overall and 5-5 in the PWC before returning Junior year with a vengeance. Laying that foundation that they’re looking for a postseason-berth and eventually bigger things beyond that as they finished the 2010’s going to the postseason four of the last five years.
“The expectations were super high and even more with (Head Coach) Lori (Ramsay) coaching most of these girls on the club team, she already has a state of mind of where we’re supposed to be at,” Franklin said. “Which is good for us because it pushes us to be better. It gives us a standard to push towards.
“It’s good for me personally because I need that. It’s been a great thing because when my coaches help me be competitive and understand the level of competitiveness that I have and it’s not just attitude, it helps me be a better player.”
Ziebert, after playing her freshman year and took two years away from the game of Volleyball, returned for one last season Senior Year as Scio entered Year Two of the Ramsay-era.
“I like the environment. I really like being here, I think that’s why I stopped. I didn’t like the environment, it wasn’t for me (then) and I wanted to focus on softball,” Ziebert said. “But I really, really like Lori and I really, really like the team and the girls that we have now. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s easier to play and it’s easier to be successful when you are having fun and you are actually enjoying what is going on around you.
“And that’s what I’m really looking for this year, I just really want to enjoy what I’m doing and want to work hard. I want to do that when I’m here, I want to work hard for all of these girls and my coaches.”
And that’s the thing too. In the situation that they are in with the uncertainty of tomorrow, they are living for the day. Working hard for those around you and taking those few rays of sunlight when they take them.
Official practice starts Monday, season starts two weeks later for Scio as they hope and look towards giving their Seniors one last hurrah before graduations here in June.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald