FOR THE KIDS, LOVE OF THE GAME
Volunteers are special people. People who give their own valuable time to something they enjoy. They get that "feel good" feeling. That is their reward.
Two young ladies who have shown their love for the sport of soccer as volunteer coaches of the La Grande Celtics seventh-grade girls' select team are closing out either a year-and-a-half or two years with the program.
Jamie Sullivan will graduate from EOU June 11 with a degree in biology. In the fall, Sullivan, who hails from Springfield, will enter veterinary school at Oregon State University.
Larissa Sieders is a junior at La Grande High School who has had more than her share of disappointments in soccer. She tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee as a freshman. After playing at LHS her sophomore year, Sieders tore the ACL in her left knee last August and missed her junior year with the Tigers.
"She's very dedicated," said Linda Densmore, who has played a key role in the Celtics team.
Densmore also has praise for Sullivan.
"She's been unbelievable with these girls," Densmore said of Sullivan, who along with Sieders relate to the middle school-age girls on the team very well. "She's very driven and motivated. Jamie came in and took over."
"I played college ball here (at Eastern Oregon University) for two years and it's nice to give back to the community like they gave to us in college," Sullivan said. "It's been fun working with the girls. It's just entertaining to come out and relax for a couple of hours and help the girls."
When Sullivan talks, the Celtics players listen.
"I'm pretty strict and disciplined, but I think that helps build a program and the girls respect me more in that sense," Sullivan said. "This is serious but fun all at the same time and they can understand that now."
Sullivan also volunteers in another gratifying area. She is a summer firefighter and devotes time to the City of La Grande on structure fires the rest of the year.
Sieders indicated that when Densmore asked her to coach the Celtics she didn't hesitate to accept the challenge.
"I love the kids so it was a good chance, a nice opportunity because I was considering coaching," Sieders said. "It's worked out really well. They can relate to me. If they have problems they can talk to me about it."
Sieders believes she has helped bring the players together as a team.
"Before they were all separate and had their little groups. Now there is no arguing and they know what they need to do," added Sieders.
Sullivan said the girls on the team have grown into teenagers, which is challenge for coaches as well as for parents.
"It's hard this year to get them focused, but once you do they learn very quickly and very easily," the coach said.
Coaching is an important part of Sieders' busy schedule. In addition to being a full-time student at LHS, Sieders is on the Union County Commission for Children and Families. And this summer she will work at Mountain Valley Therapy as an assistant.
Sieders' sight is set on attending college in Portland after she graduates from LHS in 2006.
Tuesday was the Celtics' last practice before the team breaks up for the summer, and it was an emotional time for both Sullivan and Sieders.
"This is a great bunch of girls. They love the sport," Sieders said.