M.S. volleyball teams see improvement


News intern

With the introduction of a new system of league play, the Hood River and Wy’east middle school volleyball programs were forced to go through somewhat of a shakedown period this season.

In years past, the girls have been split into two teams: one for the more skilled players and one for the players who need a little more direction. However, this was not the case in 2003.

Instead of having two teams with different skill levels, the girls were split into two teams that were intended to be equally matched.

“I liked the new system,” said Panthers eighth grade coach Dave Radley. “It made the girls with better skills work harder, and it made the girls with less skills work even harder than that.”

On the other hand, some coaches disagreed, saying that the new system has done more harm than good.

“It wasn’t to anyone’s advantage,” said Panthers seventh grade coach Stacy Birdsall. “The girls with lower skill levels were intimidated and the girls with higher skill levels were dragged down. It felt more comfortable when we were divided into A and B teams.”

The change in the way the girls were divided up helped facilitate a new form of competition for local middle school sports teams: Tournaments.

The schools competed in one tournament a week for five weeks against The Dalles and Chenowith. Each team played a certain number of games and was then seeded into a pool play bracket by their win-loss record.

“I didn't like the tournaments,” said Birdsall. “There was too much downtime for the girls.”

Whether or not the tournaments were welcomed with open arms, the general consensus seemed to be that all of the girls improved throughout the season.

“My main expectation at the beginning of the season was that at least 90 percent of the girls would feel comfortable serving the ball overhand,” said Wy’east seventh grade coach Susan Smith. “I was also trying to get them to get three hits per side. And by the end of the season, almost all of them had a grasp of those two concepts.”

Rob Johnston, eighth grade coach for Wy’east, saw a similar improvement on his team.

“I was trying to get them away from returning the ball to the other team with only one hit,” he said. “By the end of the season, I didn’t even have to say anything. The girls were telling each other what to do. They put it into practice and realized that is how the game is played.”

All in all, coaches at both local middle schools felt good about their teams’ seasons.

“It was very encouraging,” said Smith. “There are a lot of girls I’d like to see go on (to play high school volleyball). It was a great season and I was lucky and grateful to have such a good team.”

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Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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