Oregon City High School dominates in girl's basketball. Last spring they again won the Oregon State 4-A Basketball Championship by defeating Glencoe High School by a wide 51-29 margin. That victory was their 41st in a row and propelled them to their second consecutive USA Today national championship.
Oregon City is just outside Portland and is a milltown with a population of nearly 18,000 people. They do not have girl's basketball in their middle schools but they do have a competitive recreational league. There, the girls learn fundamentals and skills before entering into Coach Brad Smith's high school program. Coach Smith feels his girl's learn a passion for the game at that level. "It's fun and they want to win," said Coach Smith.
To get a high national ranking in USA Today, most feel that it is important to play in tournaments outside your state. Oregon City garnered wins last December against, then #9, Livingston Academy in Tennessee and two-time national champ Shelbyville Central also from Tennessee in the Altoona, Pennsylvania Tournament. Dave Krider, USA Today's high school analyst, stated, "Oregon City played the second toughest schedule in the country this year and managed to stay undefeated."
The Girl Pioneers from Oregon City began last year in the number one spot nationally and stayed there all year. They should also start out #1 again this next season. Three of their big guns are returning. Senior Ashley Smith, Coach Smith's daughter, returns at guard. At 5-4 120 pounds, she averaged 10.5 points, 10.6 assists and 6.3 steals last season. Senior Brianne Meharry (6-1 165) will be back as well and she averaged 20.4 points and 9.4 rebounds last season. Also back is junior Lindsey Yamasaki (6-2 160) who last year grabbed 9.8 rebounds and scored 12.7 points per game.
I was impressed with the national championships and wondered if they did anything with weights. I called them and found that they did indeed lift weights and also did a lot of BFS training principles. Intrigued, I asked Coach Smith about doing a story on the team. He agreed and had Ashley, Brianne, Lindsey and senior Cherisse Fowler (5-9 135) waiting for me when I arrived.
What a tremendous pleasure it was to be around them. They were so upbeat and eager to learn. When God handed out wholesome pills, he emptied everything into those girls. What a delight. I ended up doing a two-hour clinic for them. They had not learned how to do Power Cleans as yet. Fortunately, we had some BFS training plates. The photos in this article (Which will be added at a later date) were taken about 15 minutes after they were introduced to the Power Clean. As you can see, they were fast learners. Their form is great!
I was impressed with their grades. (Ashley:3.8, Lindsey:3.6, Brianne:3.5, and Cherisse:3.8) They have a non-complacent attitude. Most people after winning two national championships in a row would get big heads but not these girls. I was totally impressed.
Ashley also plays soccer and volleyball. She coaches a Little League team with Brianne and Cherisse. They are also involved together in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. If that wasn't enough, Ashley is in student council. She Benches 65 for three sets of ten and Parallel Squats 135 pounds also for three sets of ten.
Lindsey plays volleyball, Benches 85 X two sets of 5 reps and Parallel Squats 145 X 3 X 10 reps. Brianne plays piano and Benches 65 X 3 X 10 reps. Cherisse Benches 55 for 3 X 10 reps.
As they lifted and learned technique during our mini-clinic, these four outstanding girls candidly answered questions pertaining to weight training for women athletes. The following are their responses:Q: IS LIFTING WEIGHTS JUST A MAN THING? Ashley:That's like saying Basketball is only a guy's game. Lindsey: Girl's need to get strong too. Brianne: Guys are naturally strong so it's even more important for girls to weight train. Cherisse: We are not doing it to bulk up but to get stronger and better. Q:IS IT TOUGH TO GET MOTIVATED AFTER WINNING TWO NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS IN A ROW? Ashley: My motivation is for now! My last chance is next year. Lindsey: My freshman year, I didn't do very much but then I thought just how good we could be. Brianne: Our expectations and standards are so much higher. We have got to meet them. Cherisse: I've always had someone in front of me. I've got to prove myself. If we all can get just a little faster, jump a little higher and get a little stronger. Q: WHAT ABOUT COLLEGE? Ashley: I want to play and go into something like sports broadcasting. Definitely something in sports. Lindsey: I want to play both volleyball and basketball. I plan on going into the medical field, possibly a sports orthopedic surgeon. Brianne: Oh yeah! I want to play in college. I plan on being a business major. Cherisse: Yes, I would like to play in college. I am considering a major in nursing and business. Q: WILL WEIGHT TRAINING MAKE A GIRL LESS FEMININE? Ashley: Hey, healthy is in. Lindsey: That depends on how you do it. Brianne: It's an athletic thing to do. Cherisse: Muscle tone is a good thing. It is attractive. Q: WILL WEIGHTS SCREW UP YOUR TOUCH? Ashley: You can adjust by just practicing. Lindsey: When you play and lift, your body adjusts. Brianne: I don't believe it! Cherisse: All you need to do is have balance in your training. Q: WHAT ABOUT DRUGS AND ALCOHOL MIXED WITH ATHLETICS? Ashley: Don't touch it. Don't mess with it. My religious beliefs keep me from doing it. I have never had a drop. Lindsey: I don't do it because it isn't right. We all have made it clear to our friends that we don't do that stuff. So there is no social pressure now. Q: WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL OR DO YOU HAVE ANY SAGE ADVICE? Ashley: You have only one chance in life so make the best of it. We didn't win the national championship on March 3rd: we won it with three hour practices and obeying the rules. Lindsey: It takes dedication and hard work. Also, if you are going to play, you should play because you love it. Brianne: Talent can only take you so far. You have to have a work ethic. Q: WHAT DO THE GUYS THINK ABOUT YOU LIFTING WEIGHTS? Ashley: The guys know this is what we do. Lindsey: I am getting stronger. So what if you're a girl. Cherisse: Sometimes they say, "You're such a wimp." But, we are National Champions. We aren't going to let them intimidate us.
About three months after our interview and just before we went to press, I called the girls to find out what the effects of our mini-clinic were on their lifting program. Here is what they said: Lindsey: We worked really hard after you left. We could really tell the difference. It was neat showing other people how to do the lifts. Brianne: We learned a whole lot. We now watch others and can easily pick out their mistakes. Cherisse: It's a lot easier to do it now. We notice a difference. Sometimes we tell the guys about their mistakes. It makes me feel cool that I now know what to look for.
We thank Coach Brad Smith who has developed athletes who are self reliant and have such a wonderful attitude. We wish them well on their quest to win their third consecutive national title.