The Seely-Roberts clan is ready to take its game up a few notches.
Heather Seely-Roberts, who coached Yamhill-Carlton's boys basketball team to the title of the Class 3A culminating week tournament this year, has accepted the job at Class 6A Lincoln. And she will bring along her twin sons, Moroni and Malachi Seely-Roberts, the driving forces behind the Tigers as sophomores last season.
Heather not only will be the first woman to coach a boys team in the big-school classification, but she will do it in the Portland Interscholastic League, widely regarded as the state's top league.
“It was a very, very hard decision,” Heather said. “We really like YC. The twins' really good friends are there. But it came down to the chance for the boys to play against top quality competition and probably the best league in the state, night in and night out.
“They'd like to play at the next level, so we thought that playing in the PIL would prepare them better for that level. It will give them more exposure and also show what they can do."
Moroni, a 6-foot-6 point forward, averaged 29.3 points and 12.4 rebounds in being named the 3A player of the year last season. Malachi, a 6-7 point guard, averaged 15.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists and was named to the 3A first team.
“It's going to be a good challenge because we're used to 3A,” Moroni said. “The competition is still good at 3A, but 6A is obviously bigger schools, bigger kids, better competition. Us being in the PIL, it's just the best league. It's going to be harder, which I think will help us down the road. During AAU, we play against those types of kids all the time.”
The Cardinals finished 2-15 last season under first-year coach Joel Lincoln. He resigned following the season.
“I'm very excited about the challenge to go into a program and kind of see what we can do,” Heather said. “I like building. That's what I think I'm pretty good at.”
Heather went 265-175 as the girls coach at Ashland (1996-2001), Lakeridge (2001-06), Canby (2006-12) and Sprague (2013-14) before spending four seasons as the women's coach at NCAA Division III Southern Virginia University. She coached Yamhill-Carlton's boys the last three seasons, going 4-21, 16-11 and 13-4.
She said coaching a boys team “isn't something I think about anymore,” but realizes that by jumping to 6A – and in particular, the PIL – she is walking into a spotlight.
“I wanted to make sure I was going to be somewhere with a chance to be successful, because I don't want to go and fall on my face, being the first woman there,” she said. “I think there's a little bit of extra responsibility with that. So I am mindful of that.
“But I don't dwell on it too much. At the 3A level, the novelty wore off pretty soon. There were only a couple schools where I felt like the fans and coaches treated me like a female. But most coaches treated me like a coach. And because on the girls side there are so many male coaches, as well, I've always gotten along well with coaches, male or female.”
PIL assistant athletic director Jeff Peeler, the former girls coach at Lincoln and a longtime acquaintance of Heather's, contacted her in early July to ask if she was interested in coaching Lincoln's boys. She initially said no, but agreed to bring the twins to Lincoln to tour the campus.
“Peeler gave a pretty good sales pitch,” Heather said. “After a lot of talking about it, we decided to make the jump.”
Moroni and Malachi are active on the AAU circuit and are drawing interest from colleges such as Idaho State, Eastern Washington and Southern Utah. But they are lifelong fans of Oregon State – the alma mater of Heather and their father, Jason, who played on the team there – and are hopeful of playing for the Beavers.
“Obviously, our dream school would be Oregon State,” Heather said. “But we're definitely open to other schools if that doesn't happen.”
Heather, Moroni and Malachi will continue living in Newberg and commute to Lincoln, where Heather will teach PE. Heather said she is unsure if she will remain at Lincoln after the twins graduate, but will be more open to staying if they take their LDS missions right after high school.
“I always coach like I'm going to be there long-term, but at the end of each year, I always sit and re-evaluate,” she said. “I don't know what I'll do. I think a lot will depend on what the boys do for college.”