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Dec. 3, 2021

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Senior Salute: Spencer McGuire is taking bit of Union High School to college

High school: Tim Martinez

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
2 Photos
Spencer McGuire (third from left) tried out for the Union High School basketball team at the urging of Tanner Toolson (5) (Samuel Wilson for The Columbian)
Spencer McGuire (third from left) tried out for the Union High School basketball team at the urging of Tanner Toolson (5) (Samuel Wilson for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Spencer McGuire’s senior year did not go as he thought it would.

But it could have been a lot worse athletically if not for a very persistent Tanner Toolson.

McGuire, who stands 6-foot-6, played baseball and basketball growing up. But after middle school, McGuire decided to focus solely on baseball.

“Then my junior year, Tanner Toolson and I were talking,” McGuire said, referring to Union’s all-state guard. “He said ‘Dude, just come to some open gyms and have fun.’ So I went, and then I talked to Coach (Blake) Conley after that first day, and he said I should try out for the basketball team and see what happens.”

McGuire ended up making the junior varsity team that year, and he enjoyed the experience.

But when his senior year started, McGuire went back to focusing on baseball.

“But then Tanner Toolson was there again,” McGuire said. “He’s like ‘Hey, you’ve got to try out. Everyone wants you on the team.’ So I tried out.”

This time, McGuire made the varsity team as a reserve post player.

“It was an amazing experience,” he said. “The closeness of that team, the bond that we had as a family. And getting to go to the state tournament and take third, it was surreal. It was amazing.”

McGuire and the Titans played in that third-place game at the Tacoma Dome on March 7. A week later, McGuire’s senior season of baseball was shut down.

Since then, McGuire has been itching to play baseball again.

“Oh my gosh, it has been so weird,” he said. “I can’t remember ever going this long without playing baseball. There is a lot of free time that I didn’t know one could have.”

Last week, McGuire finally got to scratch that itch when he and his family ventured down to Arizona where McGuire’s younger brother Evan is playing in some tournaments with his Northwest Futures team.

“With me going to college next year, it’s kind of like one last opportunity to have a family vacation,” he said. “We leave on Tuesday, but then I’m coming back on June 29 with my mom because I’ll be playing in events with my (Northwest Futures) team.”

Northwest Futures is a Vancouver-based baseball training facility that fields traveling teams. McGuire has been playing with Northwest Futures for several years.

“We can’t do anything in Washington, so they just decided to send some teams to Arizona and play some games,” McGuire said.

The big left-handed pitcher has also taken the opportunity in Arizona to work with Ben Wetzler, the former Oregon State standout and minor-league pitcher.

“Ben is a great guy and one of the hardest working guys I know,” McGuire said. “He loves to help other people. It was really cool to be able to go throw with him and get some tips from another lefty who has played at the level he has.”

While McGuire lost out a chance to play with his Union teammates one last time in high school, he will get to share the field with two Titans – Travis Wiese and Micah Foskett–as all three have signed last fall to play at Mt. Hood Community College.

“We’ve known each other for years,” McGuire said. “Travis and Micah grew up playing together in Little League and I grew up playing against them. And then after being teammates at Union and Northwest Futures, we were all like ‘Gosh, is this actually happening? Are we going to be able to remain teammates in college?’ … They offered all three of us at the same time, and we all said ‘yeah, let’s do this.’

“A lot of people dream about going to college, but being able to go to college with two of your best friends is amazing.”

From Arizona, McGuire participated in Union’s virtual commencement last week. It wasn’t what he had hoped for, but he kept the right outlook about it.

“You know, the actual ceremony outside and getting to walk across the stage would have been a cool experience,” he said. “But then to be one of the first class of graduates to go through this, it will be memorable to go down in history.”

And as he heads to college, McGuire loves that he’s taking a little bit of Union with him to college.

“Going to Union, from tennis to football, basketball or soccer, everyone cared about the athletes,” he said. “It was really cool to be part of a school where, for instance, I was playing basketball but coming off the bench late in a game, and still everyone knew my name for being on the basketball team.

“The energy on campus and the school spirit is great. All of the coaches are great. You can talk to any coach from any team, and they can name players on the roster from any sport. It’s awesome.”

And for getting to experience that as a two-sport athlete, McGuire can thank the constant badgering of Tanner Toolson.

Tim Martinez is the assistant sports editor/prep coordinator for The Columbian. He can be reached at (360) 735-4538, or follow his Twitter handle @360TMart.