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June 2, 2020

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Football coaches get back to basics with youth program

During pandemic, high school coaches turn to volunteering at Camp Evergreen

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
5 Photos
Union's Rory Rosenbach, left, and Mountain View's Adam Mathieson demonstrate how to navigate through a game that involves no contact and rock, paper, scissors for youngsters at Crestline Elementary School on Monday afternoon, April 27, 2020.
Union's Rory Rosenbach, left, and Mountain View's Adam Mathieson demonstrate how to navigate through a game that involves no contact and rock, paper, scissors for youngsters at Crestline Elementary School on Monday afternoon, April 27, 2020. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Like introducing a new football drill, Adam Mathieson and Rory Rosenbach are busy teaching the basics. But these basics are for a playground game found on YouTube for elementary school children.

“And you hope by the fifth time,” Mathieson said, “it looks like the fifth time they did the drill.”

Or in this case, the capture-the-flag-type game.

In a time when the COVID-19 concerns have impacted everyday life, sports have taken a back seat. High school spring sports are canceled, students are learning through computers and tablets, and coaches have had minimal contact with athletes.

But some coaches have found ways to utilize their time while still connecting with their community.

Mathieson and Rosenbach, head football coaches and athletic directors at Mountain View and Union high schools, are tag-teaming supervisory roles at Camp Evergreen.

Since March 24, the program at Crestline Elementary School has provided free childcare for area children ages 30 months to 12 years whose parents or guardians are first responders and health care professionals.

The program serves between 50-75 students daily, said Craig Birnbach, communications specialist with Evergreen Public Schools.

Mathieson and Rosenbach volunteer together twice a week, and Heritage athletic director and wrestling coach Erik Gonzalez also is on site weekly in a support role.

All three play a small part in a big production.

“They’re so well-staffed; everything is so mapped out and so organized,” Gonzalez said. “All the things they do are for the kids.

“With as stressful and anxiety-filled as these times are, it’s good to know people are cognizant of the fact that we’re in this together.”

As educators, they share the same profession, and now, share a mission beyond sports with the same purpose: to serve children.

“As coaches, at the end of the day, you’re serving kids,” Mathieson said. “As (athletic directors), you’re serving coaches. It’s a way to serve a greater cause that’s bigger than us and keeps things in perspective, too.”

High school spring sports were officially canceled April 6 after Gov. Jay Inslee extended all school closures through the remainder of the school year.

Mathieson and Rosenbach have done their best to remain in communication with players to check in on their well-being.

Football hasn’t been a focus, the coaches said.

“We both feel the same way about that,” Rosenbach said.

Camp Evergreen is staffed by Evergreen Public Schools personnel. As administrators, Mathieson and Rosenbach monitor classrooms to make sure all needs of students and staff are met.

And social distancing remains intact.

Children are kept 6 feet apart with no more than 10 people per classroom.

Touching isn’t allowed, but “air” high-fives are aplenty, as in the case with Mathieson and Rosenbach’s game.

And introducing new activities and games as part of students’ curriculum is part of the enjoyment for Mathieson and Rosenbach.

“It’s a fun deal for us to do this,” Rosenbach said.

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Staff writer Joshua Hart contributed to this story.

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