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Day: March 9, 2015

Auvinen on new role: ‘Keep them guessing’

Jeff Auvinen, a longtime Celtic teacher and coach will lead the McNary gridders. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Jeff Auvinen, a longtime Celtic teacher and coach will lead the McNary gridders.
(KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

McNary High School football players didn’t need to wait long to find out who their new head coach would be Monday, March 2.

“When Coach (Isaac) Parker said that he had another opportunity, I knew we had some big shoes to fill. He did great things to build this program through his relationships with you, the players, and in the community,” said Erik Jespersen, McNary principal.

Shortly thereafter players learned longtime McNary teacher and coach Jeff Auvinen would be taking the reins of the program. Most recently, Auvinen has been coaching the school’s freshman gridders.

Parker resigned from the program in January to take an assistant coaching and recruiter job with Lewis and Clark College.

“He’s been such a part of the program for so long that he’s been through the ups and downs and now he’s leading us,” said junior Jason Sperle. “It’s not a whole new beginning, we’re picking up right where we left off.”

Sperle went directly to varsity action skipping a tenure under Auvinen, but sophomore Kolby Barker was part of Auvinen’s team as a freshman.

“We actually didn’t have that great of a season, but we’ve got the right guys in the right places to be successful under Coach Auvinen. I’m excited, it’s going to be good,” Barker said.

Auvinen laid out the plan for the immediate future while greeting the troops for the first time as head coach.

“The goals we have are to develop excellent community members, develop our football IQ and become as much of a family atmosphere as we can. We’ll do the last part by having fun,” Auvinen said.

In football, Auvinen has served as varsity defensive coordinator, defensive back coach, head junior varsity coach, junior varsity offensive coordinator, freshman offensive coordinator and freshman head coach. He also led the Lady Celt softball program as head coach for six years and assistant coached the junior varsity basketball team for four years.

He said he’ll be looking for leadership in the ranks immediately, which will mean everything from marching in the Keizer Iris Festival Parade to mentoring youth football players on the field.

“We want people like you guys helping them get a good start. Some of them need a good male role model in their life,” he said.

After the meeting, Auvinen said he put considerable thought into taking on a “dream job.”

“I have thought about this job for twenty years or so, and have had some nice talks with my family about the biggest obstacle – time. We decided that we can make this entire endeavor a family affair and it really has turned into a dream job,” he said.

He said he’ll put an emphasis on getting stronger and quicker, but mostly developing players’ confidence in their own abilities.

“There are two big challenges for next year and they are mental and physical preparation,” Auvinene said.

As far as a game plan, Auvinen said there will likely be more of a mix of passing and running the ball, a slight change in direction from Parker’s vision for a run-first offense.

“We want to keep them guessing and cause paralysis by analysis. We want them confused as to what we’ll be doing,” Auvinen said. “Most importantly, we have to play as a team. We need 11 people doing their job. If we’ve only got nine, we don’t have a play.”

Volcanoes paying for a volcano slide at Big Toy

A revised Big Toy drawing incorporates the newest addition, a volcano slide being paid for by the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. (Submitted)
A revised Big Toy drawing incorporates the newest addition, a volcano slide being paid for by the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.
(Submitted)

By CRAIG MURPHY

Of the Keizertimes

It would be expected for any large structure like the Big Toy being planned for Keizer Rapids Park to have a slide or two.

How can a slide get a Keizer twist?

Well, a volcano slide would do the trick.

Jerry Walker, owner of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes baseball team, has pledged funding to help create such a thing for Keizer’s youth.

“That’s what we’re doing,” said Walker, who brought the Volcanoes to town at the then-new Volcanoes Stadium in 1997. “We’re going to do a volcano at the Big Toy.”

Walker has committed $7,500 towards the project, $1,000 of which has already been paid. He has pledged a maximum of $500 for a replica of Crater, the team’s mascot.

“We’re waiting for a design,” Walker said. “I haven’t seen a final design yet, only what the committee has shown. There will be a big volcano, with several different thoughts on how kids will climb to the top. They will have a nice slide down. When they get to the top, Crater will be there. They will slide down between his legs, going down the slide to the bottom.”

If possible, Walker would like to see a mister incorporated into the design to shoot out fog, like what Crater uses each May during the Iris Festival parade and like what the scoreboard at Volcanoes Stadium uses.

“One concept was to have steam or mist coming out of the volcano, like it is putting off some smoke,” Walker said. “I would like to see that if it’s possible. It’s absolutely safe for the environment. If not, regardless we will have a slide with Crater at the top.”

Walker has no doubt the final product will work.

“They told me I get to approve the final design,” he said. “I’m sure it will be fine. It should be great.”

Former Mayor Lore Christopher, who has ramped up her efforts recently to sell Big Toy components, noted project general coordinator Mark Caillier will be working with consultant Leathers and Associates to design the volcano slide.

“We will work on sourcing Crater,” Christopher said in an e-mail. “This is so exciting. It will be a signature piece for Keizer. No one else has a Crater.”

Attempts to reach project manager Kyle Cundy from Leathers were unsuccessful, but Caillier expects a redone design to be ready soon.

“We may have to adjust the perimeter for the volcano,” Caillier said. “The consultant is redoing the design to make it flow better. I talked to Kyle; she said the designers are working on it.”