Addison Harris’ mom is a basketball legend from Battle Ground; and Parker and Kendall Mairs’ mom was a three-sport star at Columbia River
The Camas Papermakers were on the road earlier this girls basketball season and had a shootaround at the University of Puget Sound.
Just outside the gym is the university’s Athletic Hall of Fame, with pictures and biographies of the best of the best.
Parker Mairs, a sophomore, and Kendall Mairs, a freshman, felt a rush of excitement when they saw one in particular.
Their mom, Heather Paulsen Mairs, is up on that wall.
“I’ve seen some of her videos,” Kendall Mairs said. “I was like ‘Oh wow.’”
“She’s a really good athlete,” Parker Mairs added. “I always knew she was.”
Addison Harris can relate. A sophomore on the Camas basketball team, and one of the top recruits in the region for the Class of 2024, she has known all of her life about her mom’s accomplishments.
“We’d play family games, two-on-two, and she’d kick everybody’s butt,” Addie said of Carla Harris. “She was always pushing us in a way that only someone who has played could. She notices the little details like that.”
Carla Idsinga, as she was known back in the day, helped Battle Ground to a state basketball championship in 1991, a second-place finish in 1992, and a fifth-place trophy in 1993. She also played golf for the Tigers throughout her high school career. She would take her basketball skills to the University of Portland, where she was voted most inspirational on the 1997 squad that went 27-3 and made it to the NCAA tournament.
Heather Paulsen was one of several three-sport athletes who shined at Columbia River, Class of 1992. In her senior year, Paulsen won a state championship in volleyball, earned a seventh-place trophy in basketball, then won a state title in softball. She would go on to the University of Puget Sound, play two sports, and become the school’s first three-time All-American as a softball standout.
This is not exactly a ‘Where are they now?’ story. But where they are now is simply enjoying life as mothers, watching their children excel in Clark County a few decades beyond their own high school days.
Parker, Kendall, and Addie say it is a huge benefit to have moms who have endured the rigors of playing at such a high level.
“I think it’s an advantage,” Parker said. “They’ve been through exactly what we’ve been through. They already know what to do or have good suggestions or tips.”
“The way they say how to do something, it’s always at a higher level than the average person would say,” Kendall added.
Addie said she loves that her mom knows what it takes to win a state championship. That is the goal for this Camas program.
That also means Addie is in great shape.
“She’s big on conditioning,” Addie said. “‘Addison, go run hills. Addison, go run stairs.’”
In fact, Addie is known for sprinting back on defense as fast as she sprints on offense. There is a reason for that, too. Addie said if she slows down, she might have to sleep outside.
“Make sure she knows I’m kidding,” Addie quickly adds.
Being daughters of athletic legends does not mean they are pushed too hard. In fact, the former college athletes implore their children to have fun in high school.
Parker (with soccer), Kendall (with volleyball) and Addie (with basketball) all have goals of playing in college. Their parents want them to realize those dreams. But they do not want their daughters to be overcome with stress.
“The biggest thing as parents who’ve played in college that we could give our kids is to know that this is the time you really have fun and you play multiple sports,” Carla Harris said.
“We’ve always encouraged playing multiple sports,” Heather Mairs said. “It’s good for your body. Good for competing. You just have to learn to compete. When we were in high school, three sports was a no-brainer.”
Parker Mairs won a state championship in the fall with the Camas soccer team. Kendall Mairs helped Camas reach the state tournament in volleyball and was voted to the all-state team. Addie Harris used to compete in track and field, and now she is a volleyball player and a basketball star.
“It’s good to have all different types of skills,” Kendall said. “I play volleyball, and the jumping part of it helps me with blocked shots or getting high on my layups (in basketball).”
“Basketball and soccer are completely different types of running,” Parker said, adding that the multisport athlete is flexible enough to use drills from one sport to help in the other.
Addie said it is all about working different muscles throughout the school year. That, she said, helps prevent overuse injuries.
As great as Carla and Heather were in high school and in college, they also had their setbacks. It gives them an interesting perspective.
It still stings when Carla is reminded of a shot she missed with just seconds to go in the state championship game her junior year. Had she made it, the game likely would have gone into overtime.
Earlier this season, Addie missed a last-second shot in a loss. She took it hard. But she was not allowed to get too down on herself. Addie said her mom put it to her matter of factly: “Addison, I missed one in a championship game. You’re OK. It’s going to happen to the best of us.”
Parker said she had a tough basketball game against Clackamas this season and was down on herself.
“The next day, Mom was there. ‘Mistakes make you better,’” was the message.
Kendall has heard that, as well.
“I feel it’s easier to relate to your mom, same gender, going through the same types of things. Mom has a little soft spot for you,” Kendall said. “‘Accept it and move on. Mistakes make you better.’”
Heather recalled some of her toughest days as an athlete, a serious knee injury in college. She rehabbed and got back on the softball field for her senior season. Then went 0-fer in her first couple of games. In her third game back, she hit a home run.
“Ok, I’m all better,” she recalled. “You battle through that. Teaching your kids to do that is really what it’s all about. You’re going to fail so many times. But you just have to come back even stronger.”
Remember Carla’s most inspirational award at Portland? That came from her battling back from multiple knee surgeries. She, too, understands the frustration, the heartache of injuries.
This week, mom will be leaning on that experience to help her daughter.
Addie suffered a foot injury and will not play in Camas’ game on Saturday, the third-place game at the bi-district tournament. Addie and the Papermakers are hoping she will be back later this postseason. Camas has already qualified for the state regionals.
Still, the ultimate goal remains a possibility for the Papermakers.
“We started this motto. Breaking the rock every day,” Kendall said. “One day it will crack.”
“Obviously the goal is to try to get a ring,” Parker added. “We’ve just been really working hard, pushing ourselves to the max.”
Addie wants more than one state title.
“Get a ring. Come back next season and get another ring,” she said.
That intense focus will remain for the Papermakers.
But maybe during pre-game warm-ups, or maybe during a stop in the action during a game, there will be a point when Parker and Kendall Mairs will take a quick glance into the stands and notice their mom.
Addie Harris might do the same.
And they might smile for a split second, because they can appreciate just how good their moms were growing up in Clark County, and they are thrilled to have their support.
“My mom, I know she’s a team player. She’s always cheering on anyone,” Parker said.
“My mom cheers for anyone, no matter what. Always on the positive side,” Kendall added. “It’s fun to watch her have fun watching us.”
“My mom just loves watching basketball,” Addie said. “Not a pushy parent at all. Just loves watching basketball. It’s so much fun.”
Heather and Carla’s playing days are over, but their love for sports continues.
Carla and Jason, also a former basketball player at the University of Portland, where they met, talk quietly about strategy when they watch their daughter play.
“It’s fun. You’re just in the moment,” Carla said of being a spectator. “I try to internally calm myself down. You want them to play well and do well for the team.”
Heather and Tad Mairs, also a Columbia River graduate and a state baseball champion, can really appreciate the lessons from years ago.
“It’s all about community and family,” Heather said. “That’s what I got from my coaches in high school. We create good friendships with parents, with families, and it lasts for a lifetime.”
Eras of excellence.
On the court. On the field. In the stands.