The Dalles’ new volleyball coach, Doug Magee, truly believes in the process of building a program brick-by-brick.
He emphasizes work ethic, a positive attitude and having his players develop a team-first mentality.
Early in camp, the difference is noticeable.
“Coaching is all about life lessons,” Magee said. “I think teaching them to be selfless and getting them to know that their program is more important than they are, the team is more important than they are, and their teammates are more important than they are. If they just put everybody else first, then they are going to make themselves better players and people. It is about treating everybody with respect and just knowing that they have to fight to win respect. It is just not going to be given to them.”
In 2018, the Riverhawks (5-15 overall, 2-8 in league) ended up with a pair of four-game losses to Hood River Valley, lost in four on the road at Camas, Wash., and lost in five opposite Pendleton, as they went 2-3 in their last five matches.
Now without all-league hitter Bailey LeBreton, fellow all-leaguers Kilee Hoylman and Audrey Synon return for their senior years as honorable mention selections, and both Bree Birchfield and Lauryn Belanger add a veteran senior presence to a varsity roster of four juniors and three freshmen.
“This team is already giving 110 percent in everything they do, and it is just so cool to see these young girls step up to play faster-paced volleyball, especially in our league,” Belanger said. “At the IMC Jamboree, all these young girls were playing against Ridgeview and living up to their potential and hustling everywhere, listening to us older girls and helping each other out. This team has so much potential in our league and I definitely feel that we can compete above and beyond.”
Those added reps will be critical in a league that featured state qualifiers Crook County, Hood River Valley (fourth) and Ridgeview (runner-up).
Before thinking about any postseason hopes, junior Charlie May said that coach Magee and assistants Shawna Ortega and Siterra Magee-Trujillo have cleared the deck and focused on the fundamentals.
That will be an important aspect.
“We want to get back to the basics and perfect those basics before we turn that corner,” May said. “That is what Doug is focusing on. He wants us to get back to the basics, so that’s why I think he is the perfect fit for this program.”
While the league is tough and finding a way to creep into third place and a state berth looks to be a tough task, Birchfield looks across Kurtz Gym and sees a group that is filled with untapped potential.
“I want to say that getting to the playoffs is something that we can achieve because I really think it something that we can do as long as we set our minds on it,” Birchfield said. “I truly feel this way because, one, the talent we have, and two, because the family aspect of this team is just so phenomenal. I definitely think we have what it takes to get there, if we go all-in.”
This weekend, TD was at the Hillsboro Tournament, and then they have a break before heading to Banks for a non-league match at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17.