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Coaching changes – Foxes have key openings to fill

By James Day

In the midst of one of its most successful sports seasons ever Silverton High finds itself posting a series of help wanted signs.

The good news is that Athletic Director James Rise and school administration already have filled one slot. Josh Craig, who led the football program to a 41-11 record in five years and last fall’s Class 5A title before leaving for family reasons, has been replaced by Silverton-area resident Dan Lever, who led Class 6A Tualatin to a second place finish at state.

The bad news is that Rise and Co. have boys basketball, girls basketball and volleyball jobs to fill. And the success level was almost as high as that of football. Boys basketball, under Jamie McCarty, finished second at state, while Tal Wold’s girls hoops squad and Kate O’Connor’s volleyball team each advanced to the state quarterfinals. McCarty and Wold won Mid-Willamette Conference titles, while O’Connor’s squad tied for second with Crescent Valley.

Boys basketball: McCarty dominated the Mid-Willamette during his five years, losing just one league game. He finished 4th, 3rd and 2nd at state in the three years out of those five in which it was conducted. In the two COVID years he was just as accomplished. His 2019-20 squad already was through to the Class 5A semifinals when the pandemic shut down the tournament. His 2020-21 “short season” squad went 14-1, undefeated in league and 6-1 against the Class 6A teams in Salem.

McCarty, 48, was facing a challenging work-life balance. Already the principal at Victor Point and Evergreen, Pratum was added to his plate for this school year.

“It was a tough year,” McCarty told Our Town. “Being principal at three different schools and all the responsibilities of boys basketball… I don’t know how I survived.”

McCarty not only survived, he thrived, leading a senior-dominated group of Foxes to their fourth undefeated league season and a second-place finish at the state tournament.

“I owed it to the nine seniors on our team to finish the job,” McCarty said.

This is the second coaching hiatus that family and work issues have led McCarty to undertake. In 2007 after leading the Stayton boys to a runner-up finish in Class 4A he stepped away from coaching to pursue an administrative career and to help take care of children Brooke, then seven, and Jordan, three.

Brooke helped lead three Silverton girls teams to state trophies, including the 2016 state title, while Jordan was a four-year standout in basketball and quarterbacked the football team to last fall’s state title.

Is McCarty done with coaching? He ruled out ruling out whether he would coach again. “You never know where life is going to lead you,” he said.

Girls basketball: Wold, 49, led Silverton to five Mid-Willamette titles and took the Foxes to Gill every year the 5A tournament has been held there. Like McCarty, Wold has family balance issues that he is juggling. Daughters Harper, nine, and Henley, three, require his attention, and his wife Taryn, is working on an administration license that requires weekly Tuesday night appearances at Portland State. A lot of basketball games, unfortunately, are played on Tuesday nights.

When the program concludes next spring, Wold said it is possible he will seek another high school coaching position at that point, if it’s close to home.

“Family is just so important to me,” Wold told Our Town in an interview in his math classroom at Silverton Middle School that was at times emotional. “And it’s not just a four-month season. It’s so mentally consuming.”

Wold said he felt a bit worn down by the end of this season, which ended with the Foxes losing both of their games at the 5A tournament.

“I think a little rest is needed,” he said. “It just got to be too much and I need to take a deep breath.”

Volleyball: O’Connor was coming off the best of her four seasons with Silverton. She was named coach of the year in the Mid-Willamette after leading the Foxes to a 13-3 record and a berth in the Class 5A quarterfinals. In her rookie season the Foxes also made the 5A playoffs, falling to Wilsonville in the round of 16.

“I did not resign for another school but have a great friend/coach that convinced me to volunteer assist and I’ve been doing skills development sessions with her the last couple months,” O’Connor said.

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