Saturday, September 14, 2013
It was about 90 degrees Wednesday afternoon and 15 or so high school athletes were busy swimming and splashing around the Columbia River, in the calm waters of the Nichols Boat Basin. In a uniquely Hood River approach to training, the group has been utilizing the river for the last couple weeks, sharing it with paddle boarders, kayakers, windsurfers and kiters, while their regular area, the Hood River Aquatic Center, undergoes annual maintenance.
“We have got to be the only team in the country practicing and playing water polo in an open river,” said Kellie Dunn, Hood River Valley High School’s water polo team co-coach. “We’re lucky to have a magnificent river to train in. Most teams don’t have many options if their pool isn’t available.”
The club team was founded last spring and fielded 12 players by the fall season – enough to garner a junior varsity schedule in the Mt. Hood Conference. This season the team has 16 players (14 boys and two girls) and will field JV and varsity teams against 5A and 6A conference schools Centennial, David Douglas, Gresham, Reynolds, Sam Barlow, Parkrose and Sandy.
“There are high school teams all over the state now,” Dunn said about the growing popularity of the sport in the Northwest. “Since we’re so new, I think this year is going to be a shock for our team playing at the varsity level. There’s a big difference between JV and varsity in water polo. The next couple seasons are going to be a tough part of building the program in Hood River.”
Dunn, who is co-coaching the team with Dave Cameron, played for Westview in high school and was a member of a two-time state champion team before moving on to play for Div. 1 Santa Clara University.
Dunn says this year’s team is full of strong swimmers, but a few stand out as key players. Connor Dunn, a senior and one of the team’s founders, will play the position of whole-set. At about 6 feet 4 inches tall, his reach will be key to the very physical position front and center, where many of the goals are scored. Taller yet is junior Stan Ochesky, whose massive wingspan will be another key to the team’s strategy this season at the position of whole guard — the defensive version of Dunn’s position. Dunn and Tex Spezia-Schwiff will be captains.
Last season the team won about half of its games at the JV level and will have to step up its game if it wants to have the same success at the next level of action. As an early test of the competition, the team traveled to a preseason jamboree last weekend at Barlow, where it played a back-to-back sequence of seven mini-games.
Coach Dunn says the squad won one game and lost the rest; although several were pretty close. “I think it was a little overwhelming for them,” she said. “A lot of the teams there played over the summer, so considering that, we came out strong and stepped up to the challenge.”
On Thursday the team played its first full game of the season against Centennial. The JV squad powered through the competition for an 11-0 win while the varsity finished with a commanding 27-13 win.
Connor Dunn said of the game, “It felt good going into the water and actually playing a team after a whole summer of practice. We started out and we weren’t sure what the other team was going to bring, but we figured out that a fast tempo could help us score. Thanks to all the practices that we did we had great endurance and were in good physical shape.”
The team hosts its first home game Sept. 17 vs. Reynolds, 5:30 p.m. at the Hood River pool.
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
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