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Day: March 12, 2018

Flores carries torch in service to education, family

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Jason Flores, the 2017 Service to Education Award winner, couldn’t technically coach Little League until he was 18.

But that didn’t stop him from making sure his younger brother had a coach who knew what he was doing, even if that meant joining forces with his older brother, who knew nothing about baseball.

“The second I got done playing Little League, I started coaching for my little brother,” Flores said.

“I was 17 and just felt like my little brother deserved more, he deserved what I got, which was really good coaching, and at the time I felt like he didn’t have it.”

Flores continued coaching at Parrish Little League in Salem through 1997. After a short break, he began coaching his daughters, Audri and Kaelie, at Keizer Little League in 2001.

He continued coaching them as well as his son Riley until they were in high school.

Flores didn’t just stick to softball and baseball. He also coached all three kids at KYBA, even though basketball wasn’t his game.

“I’m a resourceful guy so the first thing I did was latch on to the best coaches that I knew (Ron Hittner and Bob Cavell) and sat in the practices and took notes and emulated them and I consider myself today pretty knowledgable about basketball,” Flores said.

Flores, who also served on the KYBA Board of Directors for 10 years and was president for two, coached Kaelie from fourth to eighth grade on a team that included Reina Strand, Madi Hingston and Sydney Hunter.

All four girls went on to sign with colleges and as high school teammates at McNary finished fourth in the state in 2016.

“I just did it because I thought that was the best thing to do,” Flores said of coaching.

“I look back now and I had really good mentors, really good coaching and that’s what helped me be successful throughout, so I wanted to give that back. They’re always shorthanded, Little League, basketball, they’re always needing coaches.”

Flores grew up in Keizer but moved to Salem and attended Parrish Middle School and then North Salem High School.

He moved back to Keizer with his wife, Keri, in 2000.

Flores started Celtic Homes in 2013, building new custom homes.

“Our mission is to be successful and then bring everyone around us to have success as well and then give back,” Flores said.

“If I’m successful, then I give a lot back. I don’t have a set amount. I don’t have an equation for it. I just stay involved.”

Along with donating to McNary Athletic Booster Club’s turf field project, Flores helped install the goal posts and revamp the old scoreboard, fixing lights and painting.

“We were going to have opening day on the turf with this old crudy scoreboard,” Flores said. “I couldn’t let that happen. We couldn’t do an opening day on a brand new turf field with an old scoreboard with lights not working.”

When the booster club started an Adopt a Celt program in 2016 for McNary athletes who couldn’t afford to play, Flores took the entire bill, $2,000 for 40 athletes, the first year.

“It didn’t go over very well so I just adopted them all that year,” Flores said. “I just said give me the bill. I like that fundraiser. Whatever they need in that bucket, I’ll make sure it’s full. I never want a kid that wants to play sports not be able to play because of money.”

Through Celtic Homes, Flores also helped build new softball dugouts at McNary and this summer he plans to team up with Salem Electric to install a new scoreboard at the turf field.

“It’s based on my prosperity,” Flores said. “The Lord has blessed me. We’ve done really well the last few years.”

Flores was stunned to receive the Service to Education Award on Jan. 20 at the Keizer Chamber awards banquet.

“There’s a lot of dads that are just like me,” he said.

McNary alum sets sights on Miss Oregon USA title

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Sofia Boru had to get three approvals before deciding to take the plunge and compete for the title of Miss Oregon USA: her best friend’s, her mother’s, and her boyfriend’s.

She was scrolling through Facebook and saw an advertisement for the pageant in October 2017. As she read through the requirements, she decided it was something she could do, but wanted other opinions first.

“Once I heard from all three of them, I knew I was going to do it,” Boru said.

The Miss Oregon pageant, which will be held in October, is a precursor to the Miss USA title and the overall Miss Universe title if Boru advances. It includes interviewing portions as well as swimsuit and evening gown competitions.

The timing of her decision to enter the pageant was something of a blessing and a curse.

“It was that time of year when you have the holidays and Thanksgiving and all the food that comes with it. Everything that I love food-wise was going to be around and I wanted to be in good shape for the competition,” Boru said.

Instead of indulging, Boru partnered with a trainer, Keizer’s Mah-Ann Mendoza, and began workouts to prepare for the swimsuit portion of the event.

“One of the things my phone interviewer (for the pageant) said was that physical appearance didn’t matter as much as the confidence that was behind the contestant on stage,” she said. “I watched some of the older shows and there were some larger women who were gorgeous and beautiful and took the stage so confidently. It was really reassuring to know I didn’t have to be a certain size on the scale.”

Boru, 23, works a few jobs, but her goal is to be a permanent part of a special needs classroom. She frequently substitutes at McNary High School’s Developmental Learning Center where she works with medically-fragile students. Boru graduated from McNary in 2013.

“The first time I had a special needs substitute job, I was scared because I didn’t know how I would react to it. There were kids who had medical needs and some were non-verbal and I came into this classroom and the other teachers were so warm and welcoming and they said just spend time with the kids,” Boru said.

For some who work in developmentally disabled care, that means doing the bare minimum, but Boru enjoys engaging with the students in ways that go beyond mere duty. She ended up with a long-term role in the classroom when another teacher was out on an extended leave, and that clinched the deal.

“They are such great listeners. You may not realize it, but taking the time to look at them and talk to them has a huge impact,” she said.

Working toward the pageant and fundraising has pushed Boru to expand her horizons beyond her Keizer roots, but that hasn’t been as hard as she might have expected. Boru is the daughter of Paula and Randy Moseley, two prominent and longtime Keizer business people and volunteers. Paula is the advertising representative at the Keizertimes and Randy is a jeweler at Boucher’s.

“Mom sets the bar high as far as working for what my sister and I wanted, and dad instilled the same kinds of values. Even when we were younger, mom always brought us along on volunteer jobs. Even if we were just visiting at work, when she worked for the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, she would find stuff for us to do. I remember around Christmas we would put together the songbooks for the tree lighting,” Boru said.

One of her favorite activities was the annual gift wrapping for the Keizer Chamber of Commerce’s Giving Basket program, and she’s trying to pass on that giving spirit to her goddaughter.

“We went through the Gubser lights last year and she passed three big bags of food out the window to the volunteers. She got candy canes in return, but she asked where the food was going and I told her that it would go to people that needed it. She asked if we could do it again next year,” Boru said.

Boru said that her parents were, without a doubt, the biggest influences on her outlook when it comes to volunteering.

“Mom is always smiling and go-getting and she’s always excited to get involved. There’s no hesitation. Dad doesn’t even ask, he just shows up. If more people started going into it with the positive attitude, we would have more volunteers,” she said. “You can make sacrifices and it be a good thing. It’s not really a sacrifice if it makes you feel good.”

Celtics to compete for playing time in 2018

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary’s roster is full of players who have been waiting their turn.

With the graduation of 10 seniors, they’ll finally get their shot.

“We had proven guys that were coming back to last years team and this year no one would be considered a proven high quality varsity player,” McNary head baseball coach Larry Keeker said. “I think we have them. No one has actually proven it yet.”

McNary’s two most accomplished returning hitters are juniors Tyler Covalt and Jacob Jackson. Covalt, who was primarily used as a designated hitter last season, will catch this season. He has a .353 career batting average with 19 runs and 14 RBIs.

“Tyler is highly skilled,” Keeker said. “He works a lot. He spends a lot of time on his craft and he’s been waiting his turn. He’ll hit in the middle of the order. He has a little pop in his bat.”

Jackson, who played in the outfield for the Celtics last season, could move into the infield in 2018. He scored 12 runs and drove in nine while posting a .293 average.

Senior Collin Wentworth also returns at shortstop but the rest of McNary’s starting lineup is up for grabs.

“Collin is our shortstop and Tyler is our catcher,” Keeker said. “After that it’s how the pieces come together. That’s the fun part about coaching is trying to figure out how those pieces are going to fit.”

The Celtics have another big senior class. Kyle McCallister and Carl Rumbaugh will lead McNary on the mound. McCallister had a 3.75 ERA and 16 strikeouts over 28 innings while Rumbaugh posted a 3.15 ERA and recorded 11 strikeouts over 20 innings.

McCallister could also play at third base and Rumbaugh at first.

John Catron, Andy Okada, Brady Ellis and Ryan Thompson could also eat up innings.

David Allen, a junior, is the favorite to be the Celtics No. 3 starter and could also play in the outfield.

Alex Burger, Lance Becktel, Robert Benson, Devon Bedoya, a transfer from Salem Academy, and David Alfaro, who is trying to return from injury after breaking his foot playing football, will also compete for playing time.

“The good news is we have some competition in the program but the bad news is we have competition in the program so someone is not going to get in the lineup,” Keeker said. “That makes for a healthy team when you get a chance to compete amongst yourselves.”

McNary is scheduled to open the regular season on Monday, March 12 at home against Roseburg at 4:30 p.m. The Celtics will spend spring break, March 28-31, playing in a tournament at Volcanoes Stadium and then open league play on April 3 at North Salem.

“We’re really optimistic,” Keeker said. “The kids they’ve been doing a good job in the offseason in terms of working out on their own and showing up to conditioning sessions. We had 20 guys on a regular basis doing the conditioning sessions. There’s a commitment level there that’s actually a lot better than we’ve had in the last couple of years. That’s really been nice to see.”

Keeker expects South Salem to be the favorite to win the Greater Valley Conference, at least on paper.

The Saxons return catcher Aaron Zavala, who has committed to the University of Oregon, as well as a strong rotation on the mound.

“They have some really high caliber type players in their lineup that our coming back,” Keeker said. “Just personnel wise you have to look at that team and think that they are probably the favorite.”