“What a year for the Foxes!” said Silverton athletic director James Rise.
With two teams – baseball and softball – still in the playoff hunt, the 2021-22 school year has produced state titles in football and boys track, runner-up finishes for boys basketball and girls golf and quarterfinal appearances for volleyball, boys soccer and girls basketball.
How did all this happen? It looks like a potent brew of talent, coaching, community support and COVID.
Why COVID? Because success in athletics, as in life, often is driven by how well one overcomes obstacles. Everyone in the state was in the same boat, but Silverton seemed to come out of the pandemic more prepared, more committed, more together.
“I do think kids wanted to have a great year after COVID and get back to normal high school,” Jamie McCarty, who led the Foxes to five consecutive Mid-Willamette Conference boys basketball titles, said.
“We were super committed throughout COVID, trying to get our work in,” said Austin Ratliff, who was on state champion teams in football and track and a runner-up in hoops. “After coming off of COVID everyone wanted to succeed and do their best.”
Then there were the athletes themselves.
“We have had a very strong group of athletes this year,” said Josh Craig, who coached the Foxes to the 2021 football state title. “The talent alone is some of the best I’ve ever seen at Silverton.”
“This year’s senior class is remarkable,” Rise said. “We have a few Division I level athletes, but a whole host more of kids that compete at a very high level every single day in practice and games.”
In the next breath Rise added “I believe we have the best coaching staff in the state.” And it’s a staff that emphasizes two- and three-sport versatility.
“I really love that at Silverton coaches work together to have three-sport athletes,” McCarty said. “Too many schools are specializing and getting athletes to only do one sport, telling them this is their ticket to success. If you talk to any Division I coach recruiting athletes they will tell you the exact opposite. They want to see athletes do two and three sports. It only creates a more competitive and dynamic athlete.”
As does community support, Rise said. “The Silverton families and community continually ‘show up’ for our kids. This includes spectators at events, financial support as donors, as well as the overall belief that athletics/activities play such a positive role in our students lives.”
Craig noted the “one town, one team” model that Silverton embodies. “Silverton strikes the perfect balance of being a larger high school but with a small-town, tight-knit energy.”
Athletes who participated on two or more teams that made the state quarterfinals or better:
Three teams: Austin Ratliff and Jordan McCarty, football, basketball and track, with McCarty coming one meet short of qualifying in golf also
Football and Boys Basketball: Grant Russell and David Russell
Soccer and Track: Bjorn Domst and Jonathan DuVal
Girls Hoops and Volleyball: Lilly Horner, who also scored at state track meet
Football and Track: Orie Schaffers, Sam Willis, Joel Rush, Keegan Walter, Riley Sinn and Chandler Kuenzi
Boys Hoops and Track: Ryan Redman-Brown and Ping Koonantha
Girls Golf and Girls Hoops: Paige Traeger and Kalyssa Efimov