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Day: August 24, 2018

MHS alum returns as Celts’ band director

Of the Keizertimes

When Chris Nelson walked into the McNary band room for the first time in more than a dozen years, hundreds of memories rushed through his head.

“It is literally a trip down memory lane,” said Nelson, McNary’s new band director. “I imagine at some point I’ll get past that and it will be where I live and where I work but when I go to the high school, I just picture it how I remember it.”

Nelson began playing in the percussion section as a 12-year-old at Whiteaker.

He picked percussion because of its versatility. Instead of being stuck to one instrument, he could play bass drum, snare drum or even bells.

In high school at McNary, he fell in love with mallet pitched instruments like the xylophone.

“You could play melodies and tunes instead of just playing a beat on a drum,” said Nelson, who along with being in the marching band and jazz band, was also part of McNary’s competitive indoor drumline. “If it was in band, I tried to do it. I was all in on band in high school.”

By his senior year (2005), Nelson knew he wanted to be a teacher.

“I remember vaguely kind of imagining wouldn’t it be cool to be the band director here but it was nothing more than a day dream,” Nelson said.

Nelson earned a bachelor of music in instrumental music education from Brigham Young University and master of arts in music performance with an emphasis in conduction from Washington State.

After college, he became the band director of Timpanogos High School in Orem, Utah. Nelson started the program with 50-60 kids and grew it to 80-90 in three years.

“The band program was pretty small and the goal was to grow it and try to get more kids in the group,” Nelson said. “What I’m really proud of is we grew in terms of quality.”

His ensembles were consistently recognized for their quality with superior ratings at concert band, jazz band, and solo and ensemble festivals. The Timpanogos marching band was recognized with numerous first place finishes and caption awards in their division, and was named Utah’s 2016 Division 1A State Champion. During his time at Timpanogos, Nelson served on the School Community Council, and received numerous grants to develop curriculum and materials as a member of the Orem City Band Directors collaborative group.

Nelson had not planned on leaving.

“We liked what we had there,” he said. “We were really happy. But when this job came open I had several people push me to take a serious look at it.”

Nelson’s parents still live in Keizer and his in-laws are in Tigard. Nelson and his wife have three small kids, ages 5, 3 and 1.

“When they made the job offer, we didn’t have to think about it too long,” Nelson said.

While Nelson is open to bringing back the competitive drumline, he’s not looking to make any immediate changes.

“McNary is already a very successful band program so there’s no reason to go in guns blazing and changing everything,” Nelson said. “That’s not my goal. I want to come in and see what’s making us successful. We’re just going to continue delivering high quality music.”

He also wants to hear from students and parents.

“We could do more competitive stuff in the future if there’s a demand for it,” Nelson said. “It’s really time consuming and cost a lot of money. If the students and the community, if that’s something they want to push for then I’m all for it. I don’t want to push them unless they want to.”

Nelson wants to continue the McNary tradition of serving the community.

“I don’t apologize for holding them to a high standard but I also hold myself responsible for teaching them how to achieve that standard,” Nelson said. “I like to build personal relationships with students. I want them to feel like when they come to band that there are going to be difficult things expected of them but they are going to have all the tools to achieve those difficult things.”

Along with teaching, Nelson has also played professionally with the Utah Wind Symphony and the Utah Premiere Brass, a British style brass band.

“I love playing and I think it’s important for music teachers to play and perform so I’ll be looking for opportunities and groups to play with,” Nelson said.

McNary returns versatile volleyball squad

Of the Keizertimes

McNary’s 2018 volleyball team won’t look the same on any given night and that’s exactly how Crystal DeMello, entering her second season as head coach, likes it.

“The girls are well-versed in volleyball so if we want to run different offenses or defenses, we’re able to implement changes mid-game,” DeMello said.

“Most of the girls play more than one position and that’s always a key to matching our opponents, versatility is definitely an asset.”

The Lady Celts return seven girls from last year’s varsity squad that finished 10-13 overall and fourth in the Greater Valley Conference—seniors Sofia Zielinski, Kara Thomas, Hannah Corpe and Gabby Shepherd, juniors Zoie Warner and Chloe Diede and sophomore Taylor Ebbs.

Thomas and Warner were both GVC All-League honorable mention selections last season.

“I have several returning players who started most of last year and players that are new to varsity were leaders on our JV team. I know we have the leadership that’s required for successful season,” DeMello said. “All of them are competitors and I expect them to challenge each other every day in practice.”

McNary has 42 girls in its volleyball program, 14 on each team—varsity, JV and freshman.

Dividing up the three teams wasn’t easy.

“It was a long tryout,” DeMello said. “We’re carrying the largest squad that we can at every single level because tryouts were extremely competitive.

“They know each player has skills we need as a team, each player is key to pushing our limits. They have to compete every time they step on the court or their spot is in jeopardy. It creates competition and that is always good.”

Playing in the new Mountain Valley Conference, the Lady Celts will be tested early.

McNary travels to Bend, winner of the 2016 and 2017 5A state championships, on Tuesday, Sept. 4. Summit, the state runner-up in 2017 and champion in 2015, then comes to Keizer on Thursday, Sept. 6.

“They’re very competitive and strong,” DeMello said. “It doesn’t matter that they’re coming from 5A. They are strong programs. It will be good for the girls to start the season with them. We are looking forward to it.”

The Lady Celts open the 2018 season at home on Tuesday, Aug. 28 against Mountain View.x

Celtics ready to compete for state title

Of the Keizertimes

In 17 years as the head boys soccer coach at McNary, Miguel Camarena has had three teams he felt could seriously win a state championship.

This is one of them.

“We’ll take it step by step but that’s our goal,” Camarena said. “The possession of the ball for this group of kids is impressive. We have 22 guys who can really possess the ball. It’s a dream scenario.”

The first step is instilling confidence in a group that has finished sixth in league play the past two seasons and returns zero players from the 2014 squad that won McNary’s last conference championship.

“They have to believe they can do it,” Camarena said. “That’s it. The talent is there and the kids are working hard. I’m really excited with what I have seen so far.”

The Celtics are led by captains Miguel Bravo, a senior midfielder, and junior Luis Lopez, who made the varsity team as a freshman but has missed most of the past two seasons with injuries. However, Lopez enters the year healthy after a successful club season.

“He’s super good,” Camarena said of Lopez. “He’s strong right now. We need him in the field. I don’t want to see him injured anymore.”

Senior Sebastian Lopez will start at goal keeper for the fourth season in a row.

“He’s the best goal keeper in the state, no doubt,” Camarena said.

Senior Jesus Lopez, another four-year starter, will lead McNary’s defense, which allowed a league-best 19 goals last season.

Camarena expects senior Jose Zamudio and sophomore Alex Salazar to lead the Celtic attack.

Salazar is one of five sophomores who played varsity last season as freshmen.

“We have experienced combined with a lot of young kids,” Camarena said.

McNary will play in the new Mountain Valley Conference. In place of McMinnville, North Salem and Forest Grove, which finished first, second and fourth in the Greater Valley Conference last season, the Celtics add Bend, Summit and Mountain View. Bend had the most success last season, losing in the semifinals of the 5A state playoffs.

McNary opens the 2018 season at home on Tuesday, Aug. 28 against Central at 7 p.m.