Before looking back at 2019, let me say outright, I love my job. The hours are long. During certain seasons, I spend more late-night hours at my desk than in my bed.
But I love what I do. I get to build great relationships with coaches, administrators, community members and even parents. I get to watch kids grow up, some from awkward freshmen to sensational seniors, and see them excel at their crafts and share successes with their teams.
I love my job because for the most part every day is different. I can generally map out the seasons — the fall includes volleyball and soccer on Tuesdays and Thursdays and football on Fridays with some cross country sprinkled in; the winter includes basketball on Tuesdays and Fridays and sometimes Wednesdays and Saturdays, with some wrestling and swimming sprinkled in; and the spring includes a lot of stuff on a lot of different days. But though the seasons generally follow the same pattern, no two games or contests are the same, so that’s always interesting.
Over the course of the year, I get to visit many different gyms and stadiums and cities, which is always fun.
I love watching the high schoolers, and when I get out to Southwestern Oregon Community College, the competition and skill level are boosted up a stop, which is fun.
But a few parts of the year are extra fun for me, because they bring competition at the highest level. So three of the five things on my list revolve around state championships.
With one exception, they are listed in chronological order, more or less.
February 16, State swimming championships: Marshfield’s Anna Hutchins capped a spectacular career by winning her only state title, taking the 200-yard freestyle on a banner day for the South Coast at the Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center. Marshfield’s boys had their best-ever team finish at state, placing second, and Marshfield’s girls tied for fourth. North Bend’s boys and girls both finished third. Both schools had numerous state placers and North Bend’s girls won the 400 freestyle relay with a team of Annika Strasman, Helen Witharm, Natalie Cheal and Bella Jones. As a selfish note, the day also provided a chance to watch my niece Mariella play basketball for the first time for Valley Catholic in a league playoff game after the swimming wrapped up for the day.
February 27-March 2, Class 3A state tournament: The state tournament is a highlight of every year. In terms of work, it’s five days in a row of special sections that take hours to plan and produce. In terms of entertainment, it’s three days in a row of great competition. It was neat to see Clatskanie’s girls win their first state title and see De La Salle North Catholic’s boys win another one. Amity beat rival Dayton at the buzzer in a boys thriller in the semifinals. And I loved watching Brookings-Harbor’s girls cheer wildly for Warrenton in the consolation bracket after adopting the North Coast school as the team they would support to get over the disappointment of their own quarterfinal loss, then cheer Warrenton during the trophy presentation after beating the Warriors in the fourth-place game.
May 24-25, Class 5A state track meet: The state meet for the big schools was moved to Mount Hood Community College for a year during the construction of the new Hayward Field in Eugene and North Bend’s boys won their first state title after moving up to class 5A at the start of the school year. Ty Hampton won the javelin (he also won the national title several weeks later), Jonathon Chilcote won the 100 and Chilcote, Jake Posey, Teron Catanzaro and Martin Godinez teamed to win the 4x100 relay. North Bend had nine boys qualify for state in 12 total events and they all scored in every event. For good measure, Chelsea Howard won state titles in both the long jump and triple jump for North Bend’s girls. One week earlier, Marshfield got state titles by Khaley Aguilar (pole vault), Elise Martin (triple jump) and Ravyn MIranda (long jump) and placed third in the Class 4A team race, also at Mount Hood Community College. Chase Howerton won the pole vault for Marshfield’s boys.
July 31, American Legion state tournament: North Coos repeated as single-A state champion, beating Alpenrose Dairy of Portland 12-2 in a winner-take-all game on a steamy afternoon at Legion Field in Roseburg. The Waterfront advanced to the Pacific Northwest regional tournament for the second straight summer. Amazingly, North Coos didn’t have any pitchers throw a pitch in the state tournament who had pitched in the state tournament a year earlier. It’s fun to watch the area’s two legion teams develop each summer, since they have players from multiple schools. On another selfish note, next door to the ball field I almost got my first hole-in-one at Stewart Park Golf Course later in the day (I shared the photo of the ball mark next to the rim of the cup with a number of people).
April, May and October, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort: It was a great year at the resort and I had a front-row seat. The resort celebrated 20 years just after announcing the addition of its fifth 18-hole course, Sheep Ranch, which will open in the spring, and just before hosting its latest United States Golf Association event, the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. I had the always-pleasant experience of visiting with Bandon Dunes owner Mike Keiser, as part of a special section celebrating the anniversary, and got to walk around during part of the construction process with Bill Coore, who designed Sheep Ranch with his partner Ben Crenshaw. Then I had a chance to play a preview round on nine of the holes for the new course (spoiler alert, it’s going to be spectacular). That all sets up another big year at Bandon Dunes. In addition to Sheep Ranch opening, the resort hosts its biggest tournament to date, the U.S. Amateur, in August.