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Powder Valley’s Lasa Baxter was named the 1A volleyball coach of the year by the Oregon Athletic Coaches Association. (Observer file photo)
Lasa Baxter has built Powder Valley volleyball into a 1A powerhouse.
And for her efforts, Baxter was recognized as the 1A coach of the year by the Oregon Athletic Coaches Association recently.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” Baxter said. “When you attend that banquet, there are coaches there who have accomplished a lot. It’s a humbling experience. This award would not come without the help of a lot of people.”
Baxter has built quite the resume in her seven years in charge of the Lady Badgers. Over the past three seasons alone, Baxter has compiled a record of 70-8, including three straight trips to the state title game.
Last season, Baxter and the Badgers were finally able to grab that elusive state championship with a five-game victory against Old Oregon League rival Imbler.
“We were bound and determined,” Baxter said. “All year the girls were so determined. They put the work in, the time in. There are a lot of talented teams, but this team was devoted to each other. But it’s also a reflection of the whole North Powder
After two straight years of losing in the state championship game, Baxter led
The Badgers’ only losses came to 2A schools Weston-McEwen and Heppner.
After defeating Imbler in the district championship game, Powder Valley swept Dayville-Monument, Yoncalla and St. Paul to reach the state title game again.
In the championship game, Powder Valley faced a familiar foe in the Lady Panthers.
Like they had done the previous three times they played in 2012, the Lady Badgers went back and forth with Imbler.
Powder Valley found itself in an 11-6 hole in the fifth set but was able to close on a 9-1 run to win the championship.
“In order to win a championship, everything has to align,” Baxter said. “It takes the right combination of things. I think having Imbler in our league helped us. Having them nose and nose with us helped. Having strong competition in our league went into it.”
Baxter said the reason she continues to coach is because of the athletes she gets to mentor.
“Seeing the kids and the excitement and fun they have,” Baxter said. “I love the game, the sport. I love teaching it and sharing it. But each year I tell myself to reevaluate (coming back).”
Baxter said she isn’t sure how long she wants to continue to coach. Instead, she said she will take it year by year and see what happens.
But if she ever does decide to step down, she’ll always have the OACA coach-of-the-year award to take with her.