Commentary: Evergreen HS debuts new way to celebrate new sports year

Athletic director sets up media day activities for all fall sports teams at the school

It begins.

Friday Football has arrived.

With it, for all intents and purposes, the start of high school sports for another academic year. Fall sports. Winter sports. Spring sports. In that order, we hope. In the months we are accustomed to, we hope.

Every school has its own traditions among the crowd. In various sports.

And every school has its different ways to honor the athletes who represent the school. 

A new idea has come to Evergreen High School. Christian Swain, the school’s football coach, has taken over as the athletic director, as well. One of his first public moves was to invite the public to the high school to celebrate the New (School) Year, a holiday for some.

Delaney Bollman and Molly Delgado of Evergreen slowpitch softball, along with coach Carrie Urban prepare to answer questions from the media at Evergreen High School’s media day. Photo by Paul Valencia
Delaney Bollman and Molly Delgado of Evergreen slowpitch softball, along with coach Carrie Urban prepare to answer questions from the media at Evergreen High School’s media day. Photo by Paul Valencia

Parents and other community members met in the gymnasium for a brief welcome from the AD, and visitors were invited to tour the new weight room and conditioning area at the school. Oh, and every sports team set up a table in the commons area, so parents and potential athletes could meet with coaches. Not just the fall sports, but all the sports for the rest of the year.

The real highlight, at least for the athletes, came with their own Media Day. Athletes and coaches from the fall sports were given 15 minutes up on the stage at the school auditorium to answer questions from the media.

We’ve all seen it on TV with professional and college athletes. A sign or a logo in the background, a table, and microphones, with the athletes fielding all kinds of inquiries from the press.

At Evergreen’s event, there was a former Portland-Vancouver television sports anchor there, an assistant sports editor from a local newspaper, and yours truly. We were invited to help, and it was an honor to be there.

We asked some serious questions — such as what is life like as an athlete during COVID — and we had some fun. 

(I admit I did ask the football players what their favorite NFL team is and why it is the Raiders. They did not take the bait, though. Not one of the Plainsmen said Raiders. I won’t hold that against them. … Let me rephrase: I hope I won’t hold that against them.)

But this was not just football. It was a chance for volleyball to shine. For tennis. For cross country. For girls soccer. For slowpitch softball. The cheerleading squad, as well. Every team’s representatives took the opportunity to discuss their goals.  

Here’s the thing. This was just a beginning at Evergreen. The plan, Swain said, is to have Media Day events for the winter and spring sports teams, as well. 

And while outside media might be invited, Swain also wants to make this an event for student journalists. He envisions Evergreen students to take over the questioning. That would make it a day to celebrate sports as well as academics, with broadcast and digital journalism students. 

“I think it’s really important that we make all of our student-athletes feel special,” Swain said. “Bill Walsh (legendary NFL coach) used to say ‘Champions behave like champions before they’re champions.’ I think by building up their pride in themselves and making them feel they are a big deal, it just helps build our school culture.”

As far as the athletes at Evergreen’s first media day, I asked them what it meant to represent their school. A few of their answers:

“It’s really fun to be able to experience a new school and a new sports team where everyone is super involved,” said softball player Molly Delgado, who moved to Evergreen last year. “Everyone is so proud of the sport they plan in.”

Daniel Pierson loves his team so much he is volunteering as an assistant coach, even though he graduated. He said he loves wearing dark green.

“I feel a strong loyalty to this school,” he said. “I love the staff. I love the coaches. I love the players. I’ve had a great experience at this school.”

“It is something really special,” soccer player Rose Camacho said. “It gives us more of a reason to play. It’s not just to play for me, but to play for the school, to help the school look good. It gives us more of a meaning to play for.”

And cross country runner Beatrice LeGore gave a compelling reason why others should try her sport.

“It’s a great experience if you want to find out about yourself,” she said.

Works for cross country, and it works for all sports when you think about it.

High school sports have returned throughout Southwest Washington.

At Evergreen, there is a new way to highlight the athletes.

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