HOCKINSON — As the shutouts continued to stack up on the field last season, Hockinson goalkeeper Amanda Jeschke started seeing her life change off the field too.
She was raising her hand in class more frequently. She was more willing to be the first to say hello to others in a social setting.
Jeschke has played sports her “whole life,” she said, but it was often hard to contextualize how that shaped her personality and character on a day-to-day basis.
Jeschke finally had a chance to reflect on how much sports has taught her after the Hawks’ historic 2021 spring season. Hockinson went 11-0 and outscored opponents 55-0. Jeschke didn’t allow a goal.
“Confidence isn’t something you can easily come by, at least for me,” Jeschke said before a recent practice. “It’s something I struggled with growing up.”
With the stellar year behind her, Jeschke and the Hawks return hoping to build on that success. With 12 seniors graduated and a season-ending injury to All-Region Player of the Year Payton Lawson, the road is an uphill battle, but the Hawks feel up to the challenge.
“That was a fantastic year, but now we have to move on,” second-year coach George Moya said.
Jeschke returning in between the goalposts is a good foundation to build on.
The now senior captain has already showcased her leadership skills this season. At halftime in a 3-1 season-opening defeat to Camas, she was the first to speak up.
Longtime friend and teammate Ellie Ritter knew Jeschke was up to the captain’s task.
“I feel like firsthand I got to witness her growth,” Ritter said. “Every game, it made me super happy because you’d see her come out just a little bit more. By the end of the season, she was just steamrolling.”
Ritter, too, noticed Jeschke’s growth off the field. Jeschke is the first teammate to cheer people up or talk to a struggling player. And always does it with a smile on her face, Ritter said.
Jeschke won’t attribute her newfound confidence entirely to last season’s success. This has been a long development as a player and as a person.
“The more I grow up playing sports, the more I’ve noticed and acknowledged it,” Jeschke said. “Teenagers nowadays always struggle with confidence. It’s a big issue I see within school and society, even. It’s great that a sport can give you that.”
Jeschke calls goalkeeper an anxiety-ridden position. She would often get a rush of nerves before stepping onto the field. Those feelings aren’t so strong anymore, she said.
Now, she worries more about getting her teammates to the same level, particularly a group as young as the Hawks.
Moya also wants to ease that burden.
“We try to reduce the stress,” Moya explained. “This is an environment where we as coaches should allow mistakes to happen. Having a good, hard program does not mean fun is not part of the equation. For us, it is.”
That means the Hawks aren’t keen on setting too many goals or placing expectations on this year’s squad. They have seen the success that comes from hard work and camaraderie and can only play the game in front of them.
Opponents will find the back of the net this year — the Hawks’ have 3-1 and 2-0 losses already — but how Jeschke and the Hawks respond will determine their fate.
“I’m not going to lie, it hurt my ego a little bit,” Jeschke said about the first goal she allowed for her club team summer. “But then I realized, I’ve been scored on 1,000 times. … I think we got very lucky (last year), and I think it’s a great achievement. But we’re going to have to say ‘That’s great’, and move on.”
Season at a glance
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Maya Woods, jr., Union
Ellie White, sr., Mountain View
Elizabeth Farley, sr., Ridgefield
Anna Mooney, jr., Camas
Andie Buckley, jr., Columbia River
Sept. 23 — Union at Camas
Oct. 7 — Columbia River at Hockinson
Oct. 8 — Mountain View at Kelso
Oct. 12 — Ridgefield at Columbia River
LEAGUES AT A GLANCE
- Camas and Union look to battle for the 4A GSHL title.
- Mountain View looks to be the favorite in the 3A GSHL, but keep an eye on Kelso and Prairie.
- Columbia River returns a preseason favorite, but Ridgefield, Hockinson and Washougal figure to make the state’s toughest 2A league very interesting.
- a Center and King’s Way Christian are favored to battle for the Trico League title, with Seton Catholic and Castle Rock in the hunt for a playoff berth.