LHS athletics no longer the little brother


Yes, the upset win over a top-ranked West Linn squad was magnificent. Even better were the two victories the boys basketball team sustained over LOHS, our oldest rival.

But seriously, enough with the court storming.

It’s time for all participants of LHS athletics and supporters to start acting like they’ve been in this position before.

Because in the now 33-year history of LHS, rich success that overflows with district and state championships across all sports is starting to preside over the school once again.

In the past decade, it has in fact been a difficult road for many of LHS sports programs. There’s no denying that.

From the football team nearly being shut down in 2008 to LHS baseball mustering only one win in 2005 and the rise of a cross-town rival as one of the state’s premier sports powerhouses, getting overlooked has been easy.

Could the school’s athletic department easily have gone in the tank when faced with mounting struggles? Absolutely. Many high schools do and cannot recover after a down-stretch of time.

That’s not what a championship school does though. A little brother would back down.

Nobody here gave up or gave in. And because of it, LHS is becoming a destination for some of the top athletic talents in the area to attend school.

Immanuel Allen, Natalie Bristol, Bo McClintock, Ashley Warmenhoven; all are cogs on some of LHS’s most successful sports teams who chose to come here because they fell in love with the LHS community and its outlook.

It’s been the presence of always-successful sports programs that have made the transition from underdog to favorite, good to great, at-large berth to automatic berth, easier.

I want to credit boys lacrosse, the track and field program and volleyball as essentially the leaders of this revolution.

While many teams struggled to gain traction in the always-competitive TRL, these coaches and players held firm. Not only did they maintain their current levels of performance, they advanced them.

Under the direction of long-standing coaches Curt Sheinin, Ken James and Wendy Stammer, these teams built themselves up while the athletic department was down.

Rather than straying from the fundamental recipe for success of a stable coaching staff, athlete continuity within the different levels of competition and a 365 day commitment to the program and to the sport, belief in the process was stressed.

Fast forward to 2013, and guess who brought home LHS’s three state titles?

It wasn’t just a fluke or a dream season like many pundits proclaimed. Rather, it was the culmination of unwavering faith and trust in the system that led to those moments of glory and affirmation.

At this exact same time, LHS athletics was pulling its head out of the sand.

The football team advanced to the state quarterfinals for the first time in over a decade. Baseball, now turning the corner, had won a playoff game under former coach Colin Griffin; a feat that hadn’t been accomplished since Dave Gasser was still at the helm in the early 2000’s.

Transition to the present-day state of LHS athletics and a complete 180 in the attitudes and perceptions surrounding the athletic department has ensued.

More importantly, however, is the fact that now both coaches and players have rediscovered the identity of what it means to represent this school in competition.

“It’s defending something that was once a powerhouse,” said senior Jack Daraee.

James stepped down from his position as the headman of the cross-country and track teams after 30 years. Yet this fall, the boys team qualified for state even with a changing of the guard.

Griffin was hired away by Jesuit last summer. All the baseball team has done in response is rally around new coach Marco Tavera, who inherits what might be the program’s deepest roster since those of Gasser’s in the early 2000’s.

Excellence now surrounds the LHS athletic department.

Cheer just took 2nd in state and PDT is expected to place 3rd or better at the state competition this March.

After having only four members just three years ago, the wrestling program now has over 20 athletes.

And the staples of LHS athletics have not surprisingly continued to remain amongst the state’s elite.

No more storming the court every time we beat a rival. LHS has been one of the best ever since its opening in 1972.

State titles and big victories are not out of the ordinary.

That little brother mantra? It’s a stale joke.