SILVERTON - The Silverton High School volleyball program benefits this fall from two first-year coaches, both recent SHS grads.
Justine Mosher (SHS '08) coaches the freshmen team; Staci Fisher (SHS '04) guides the junior varsity team. Both Mosher and Fisher assist Head Coach Kirsten Barnes with the varsity team, which was ranked fourth in the state at the season's midpoint.
Mosher's opportunity to coach freshman volleyball came just over a year after her high school graduation when the person hired for that position opted for another job. Barnes called Mosher a few days before the start of fall practice to see if she would be interested.
Since Mosher loved competing in sports in school and wants to be a high school math teacher and coach, this seemed like a great opportunity to see if her plan was a good one. It turns out a near perfect fit. "I love coaching," Mosher said. "I have a really good group of girls."
The hardest thing, she said, is not competing as an athlete. She had the chance to play volleyball at Chemeketa Community College after high school, but was afraid she couldn't manage school without a part-time job. She admits, though, that she is "learning so much more being on this side as a coach."
Financial constraints prevented Mosher from going to a four-year institution like many of her friends have, but, as she starts her second year of community college, Mosher feels fortunate. She has enjoyed her classes and teachers at Chemeketa. She has also been able to save enough money - through her summer combining job, working at Taco Bell, garnering scholarships and earning a coaching salary - to pay for the next two years at Western Oregon University without going into debt.
A dedicated athlete when she attended Silverton High School, Mosher excelled in volleyball and basketball all four years.
She also played softball her freshman year but was recruited that year by Craig Porter, SHS PE teacher, to throw the javelin. She tried it and was immediately hooked. She ended up a four-year track and field athlete who went to the state meet and was good enough in javelin to be recruited by several colleges for that event.
Mosher believes that she has a special calling to be a teacher. Part of her attraction to education comes by way of her adoptive father, Cliff, a long-time science teacher in the Silverton district. Mosher, who was adopted when she was in the third grade by Cliff and Wanda Mosher, says that her background as a foster child is a big reason why she wants to work with young people.
"With my past as a foster child, I think I can reach out to students in a way that maybe some people who have had an easier life could not . . . As a teacher you have so much of an opportunity to help students, not only with knowledge but also to influence their lives like a mentor. . . High school students act like they know it all but they are really still searching and yearning for someone to help them."
Staci Fisher is a native of the Silverton area, who attended Victor Point School. Her parents are Ralph and Sue Fisher. Sue is a long-time counselor at Silverton High School.
After high school Fisher attended Linfield College and played two seasons of volleyball there before back and knee injuries forced her to take a break from the sport. Since she had not entirely found her niche at Linfield, she decided to do something completely different, signing up with Americorps for a six-month stint in New York state.
Following that volunteer service, she enrolled at Portland State University and is on track to graduate in March 2010 with a degree in social sciences. At this point, she plans to go into education, possibly following her mother into the field of counseling.
Fisher moved back to Silverton for the fall volleyball season, living with her parents while she coaches. Since she is doing fall term classes online, she doesn't have to drive to PSU every day.
"My daily schedule is get up and get my practice plan together," Fisher said. "Then pack up my school stuff and go to a coffee shop and study for two or three hours. I get to (the high) school by 3 and practice until about 6 usually. Then it's more homework in the evening."
Like Mosher, Fisher was a standout athlete in high school, excelling at both volleyball and tennis. For three of her four years at SHS, Fisher was coached by Barnes, and she says they have a "great relationship.
"Kirsten has always been very encouraging and supportive of my choices in life. As a coach, I greatly appreciate her feedback and advice. As a volleyball player, she pushed me to be better and challenged me to reach my potential."
Fisher experienced a little culture shock in returning to Silverton and coaching girls who are just a few years younger than she.
"It is weird because the varsity girls were like in sixth grade when I was a senior in high school. I knew some of them when they were little . . . I'm really not that much older than they are. I'm 23 and they're 14 or 15. It's kind of weird that we are in the same demographic. They'll be taking about something and I'll know what they're talking about. It's been really good. The girls are a lot of fun and I've been enjoying them."
Coach Barnes says that her two assistants have already contributed a lot to the program.
"Staci and Justine bring energy to their teams and know the importance of the little things that make players better. They are another pair of eyes for our varsity team and help find holes in the other team's offenses and defenses.
"It's been fun for Staci and Justine to come back to SHS and help build the program that they played in," Barnes said. "We've said that we're building a legacy for future Foxes since 2003, and they're continuing that legacy as they train and invest their time into the lives of young women here at Silverton High. . They both want to give back and make positive changes to young peoples' lives."