By Jeremy McDonald
TURNER, Ore.– It’s a unique situation that Cascade JV Head Coach Robert Leon has found himself in a week before their first game against Sweet Home. Taking the Varsity reins on a one-year basis as Cougar Head Coach Renee Cantrell tends to personal issues during Cascade’s six-week season. Cantrell will return in the Fall.
For Leon, who has coached five of six years at Cascade under former coaches Skip Collins and Halee Pratt as well as one-year at Stayton under Lael Anderson during the 2017-2018 season, it’s a bittersweet moment with the circumstances in taking over a program. But is excited to see how he could lead a Varsity program with a group of girls he’s familiar with.
“The way I got the job, I’m not happy but I’m here. I’m here to help out Renee with whatever I can do,” Leon said. “I’m just excited. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. A lot of these girls I’ve coached since they were six or seven-years-old.
“It’s nice because they want to work hard and learn, each time we come out here I try to switch it up…just try to change it up. We’re just super excited.”
Tuesday was Day 2 for Leon as they practiced next to the track on the Middle School side of campus. Setting up cones for passing drills and working through them with their first game against the Huskies March 3.
Leon will face Collins, who was the Cougars Head Coach between 2014 and 2018, second game of his interim tenure on March 9 in Stayton. The guy who he first assisted all those years ago, grateful for Collins for believing in him as they spent Collins’ final three years together. Collins had stepped down following the 2018 season
“Skip Collins, he’s the one who hired me. He believed in me and I got to say thank you,” Leon said.
Short-season or not, the girls are just excited to get out there and play. Happy there’s a season as they get to work in Turner. The sun peaking through the brief rain showers rolling through the late Winter afternoon, feeling like a California season who normally plays their girls soccer season this time of year, but overall happy they get something instead of nothing.
“For one, they’re excited just to play just because of Covid. I mean they’re just out here, they’re glad to have a season,” Leon said. “I don’t even have to say anything to get them motivated, they’re out here. They want to push; they want to work.
“Yeah, it’s a short-season and with Renee, we want her to get better and as soon as she comes out, she’ll be running it. We’re going to be a strong team even the following season.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald