The rotunda in the Tiger Woods building is crowded; but not with the kind of people you’d expect to see on a normal weekday at Nike’s corporate headquarters. It’s an hour or two before doors open for the Oregon Sports Awards ceremony, and some of Oregon’s premier high school and collegiate athletic talents are all under one roof, enjoying the free refreshments and taking selfies with the notable few big-name professionals also in attendance. It’s fair to say that most would be intimidated in the presence of some of the foremost competitors in the state, not to mention the nation, but given their standout success in the past four years, St. Mary’s two nominees to this year’s Oregon Sports Awards certainly felt comfortable amongst the other attendees.
Mary Beth Barnum, senior midfielder for Crusader soccer (nominated at the Oregon Sports Awards for the Play it Forward Award), has seen her team advance into the state playoffs all four years of her high school sports career. She attributes her success and the success of the team to their quick pace and inclusive rotations; lacking the numbers for a junior varsity team, incoming freshmen and underclassmen get their fair share of playing time alongside longer-tenured teammates like Barnum. She also spends her offseasons playing competitive soccer with the local Portland Timbers youth affiliate, which she believes, along with her playoff experience and team-oriented mentality, prepares her well for her collegiate soccer career at Portland State.
Marissa Dobry, senior runner on the Crusader cross-country and track and field teams (nominated at the Oregon Sports Awards for Female Prep Cross-Country Runner of the Year) is the current individual state 3A Cross-Country champion, as well as a crucial member of this season’s title-winning team. A move from Michigan to Oregon in the midst of her successful high school career taught her not only how to train independently, but to apply herself as a teammate in pursuit of the state title. In Dobry’s words, “things started to finally fall into place” in lieu of a strong start to her senior season and subsequent first place individual and team finish at the state meet in November. Multiple meet-and-school record breaking finishes were to follow in track season, cementing Dobry’s status as a top recruit for Cal Berkeley.
With their collegiate careers ahead of them, Dobry and Barnum look to make a name for themselves amongst competition of a higher caliber, as do many of the other high schoolers present in Beaverton earlier this week. In spite of their differences on and off the playing field, their spirit of determination, tempered by years of rigorous practice and stoked above all else by a passion for the sport, is what brings them together, and is what the Oregon Sports Awards commemorate.