By Steve Ritchie
Athletes on Kennedy and Silverton high schools’ volleyball teams and Silverton’s football and cross country teams will be greeted by new coaches this fall.
Ryan Case and Staci Sprauer are the head volleyball coaches for Silverton and Kennedy high schools, respectively, while Erik Cross will coach Silverton boys and girls cross country teams. John Mannion, profiled in a previous issue of Our Town, is the new head football coach at Silverton.
Case brings 23 years of coaching experience to Silverton’s volleyball program, which became one of the top 5A teams in the state under former coach Kirsten Barnes, who resigned this year to pursue her doctorate degree.
Case began coaching junior varsity teams at Santiam Christian and Corvallis High schools. He served as head varsity coach at South Albany High and Stayton High, each for four years. Case has coached club volleyball teams for more than 20 years, and now coaches a club team for the Mid-Valley Volleyball Club in Albany.
One of his Stayton teams had an undefeated season and his teams made it to the state playoffs each year during Case’s tenure.
Sprauer, the head volleyball coach at Kennedy High School, knows what it takes to succeed in high school and college sports.
As a high school athlete, she excelled in three sports and played basketball at the University of Oregon for four years. Today, she channels her competitive drive into training for triathlons, as well coaching young people.
Since graduating from Oregon, Sprauer has had several coaching stints in both volleyball and basketball, including as a graduate assistant for Oregon’s women’s basketball team, and coaching both sports at Bismarck State College in North Dakota.
One of her coaching highlights was returning to her high school alma mater, Mountain View High School in Vancouver, Wash., and leading her freshman volleyball team to an undefeated season. Most recently, Sprauer coached a club volleyball team in Redmond.
Interviewed just two days after moving with her husband, Tony, and five children to Mount Angel, Sprauer said, “It has been a whirlwind trying to get settled and trying to get everything ready for the (volleyball) season . . .We are happy to be here and Tony is excited about his kids attending the same schools he did.”
Sprauer grew up a “gym rat” in Vancouver, where her dad was a PE teacher and coached several sports. She is looking forward to giving her kids, who range in age from 7 to 14, some of the same experiences she benefitted from during her childhood.
Cross is back for a second stint as Silverton’s head cross-country coach. Cross, who has taught freshman health at Silverton High School for 13 years, has been the head track and field coach for either boys or girls for the past seven years. He has played a role in building a dominant track and field program. The Silverton girls have won four consecutive league titles, two of them under Cross, while he also coached the Silverton boys to one district championship.
While the cross-country program is still developing, Cross sees some good things. “We have had a good turnout for summer workouts,” he said, adding “the boys team is deep and should be solid this year. On the girls side, we have Morgan Anderson, who is a returning state qualifier. Every single one of the kids out (for this sport) are great kids who work hard . . . they make it a pleasure to come to practice every day.”