A new sports season brings new hopes, goals

It is always interesting to watch the enthusiasm at the beginning of a sports season. The expectations are guardedly high, but coaches usually are hesitant to predict too much success.

But we have several winter coaches who have been used to winning programs and therefore are always upbeat early on, ready for the season to unfold and looking to bring home the “hardware” as they like to refer to trophies.

Swim coach Doug Peargin has mentored the Huskies for 30 years and his Huskies have finished no worse than third in the district meet in either the boys or girls meet and quite often in both. What happens this year? He takes a very inexperienced team into the Sweet Home relays and they win 12 of the 15 events against some tough competition. He is quick to credit his assistant coaches, stroke coach Rene Kirkland and wall coach Bruce West. But most of all, the coaches and the swimmers are willing to put in the extra effort of daily doubles all year long, which most schools won’t. Just hard work gets it done.

It is never an off season for wrestling coach Steve Thorpe. He is busy year round, taking kids to a variety of meets so they will get mat time against quality opponents. Then he makes sure athletic director Steve Emmert puts together the toughest schedule possible. They may take a whipping along the way, like that did last Friday when they took on the number one rated 4A team in the state, Newberg. But that gives his wrestlers a chance to develop against the best.

Come time for district, Sweet Home will win by a huge margin. Come time for state, Sweet Home will send many quality wrestlers. The Huskies always have a chance. Just hard work gets it done.

Boys basketball coach Mark Risen is also active in putting together a solid program. From working as an official sometimes for the junior high traveling team to meeting with junior high coaches to fill them in on the high school system. He is never at a loss for words nor optimism.

For the first time, he faces coming back from a losing season. He hopes the successful summer league play has helped his athletes regain their confidence, and he thinks it did. At least one player, senior Anthony Mink doesn’t want his senior year marred by any losses. His buzzer beater shot still keeps that possibility alive, even though many of the players coming off the football season only had a handful of practices without any live full-court action during the week leading up to the game. But they are used to putting it all out on the floor, so that is what they did last Thursday against Elmira. Just hard work gets it done.

And that leads us to the girls basketball team, a team that has been mired in a slump for several seasons. What does it take to turn a program around. Coach Jason Gorham had to go through the agony of defeat, just 1-21 in his first year. But my, oh my. Look what just took place last week. For the first time in a very, very long time, the girls blew a team out and then followed that up with a come from behind victory on a great defensive deflection by Rachel Gaskey and the a go-ahead basket by Ashley Wall against a tough Elmira team. Two big steps in the right direction. Gorham had to work hard on the fundamentals his first year and then took them through a summer league.

Now he thinks the girls understand that what they have been working on has paid off. They are finding a way to win with defense and a lot of heart. Just hard work gets it done.

What Gorham ultimately hopes for is that the word will get out that the girls play an exciting brand of basketball and that will lead other girls to want to play as freshmen. He also hopes it brings fan support for the girls program from the students and community. Fan support begins with “fanny” support, as in come to the games and watch the girls play.

It is just as exciting to watch a program rise out of the depths as it is to watch a team that has already established itself. Like Chelsea Hackworth, the leading scorer in the game against Elmira, said, I can’t wait to get to the next game. Let the girls begin!