SALUTE - RAIN ROOFING PLAYERS SHOW THEIR METTLE

August 21, 2001 12:00 am

Two months ago nobody thought Rain Roofing, La Grandes Class A American Legion baseball team, would still be playing this far into August. But the team overcame tragedy and a slow start to power through the home stretch of the season, win the state title and advance to the regional tournament in Powell, Wyo. Its been a season to remember for this Rain Roofing team.

The team is in the hunt for the regional title, winning its first three games through Sunday. Games today will determine the champion. Sadly, the regional champion wont advance to a national tournament because there isnt one. Whether Rain Roofing wins or not, the team deserves congratulations.

The players, the coaches, their families and the community can be proud of the teams accomplishment. After one of their own was killed in a motor vehicle accident June 13, the players could have let grief affect their play. Instead, they used the memory of Rohs Kuppinger of Joseph as an inspiration.

Rohs death had a big impact on these kids, coach Wes McAllaster told Observer reporter C.J. Gish before the team headed to Wyoming last week. I think hes looking down on us now. Every time we get into a bad situation (on the field), we come out smelling like roses. Its like hes looking after us.

The team started the season 4-6 in the first two weeks. Then things started coming together. The team was 26-9 heading into the regional tournament and had 11 games in a row including a five-game sweep at state and 22 of the previous 25 games. Thats a turn-around of major proportions and shows the determination of the players and coaches. As McAllaster said, As a team, they really believe in what theyre doing.

The players have done themselves, their sponsor and their community proud.

SWIMMERS EXCEL, TOO

Rain Roofing isnt the only local team that had a great summer. The La Grande Swim Club turned in what its coach believes may be the teams best showing in more than 20 years by placing second at the recent Eastern Oregon District A Championships.

The team finished a close second to nemesis Pendleton despite having fewer swimmers and fewer individual swims. La Grande had some outstanding individual efforts, racking up more high-point trophies than Pendleton. Thats something to be proud of. Coach Jess Roberts said La Grande has earned the reputation of being a team to beat in the district.

Its good to see the club return to its perch as one of the districts dominant teams. Thats a credit to the swimmers and the coaches. Congratulations are in order.