Six teams from five Oregon Youth Authority facilities gathered at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn in early August for the annual all-facility soccer tournament.
OYA’s athletics and recreation department, led by Rod Martin, organizes four major sports tournaments each year. Every facility is invited to send a team. The other tournament sports are volleyball, flag football, and basketball.
Youth earn their way onto the teams through athletic ability, but also through maintaining good grades and positive behavior.
Each tournament is an opportunity for the youth to learn about teamwork, accountability, and sportsmanship — skills they can apply in other areas of their lives.
The events are also family affairs. Many parents, siblings, and other family supporters attend to cheer on their youth.
“It gives us some time to spend time with family, and to have an experience (similar to) some of the sports opportunities that we’ve already missed out on,” said M.J. from Camp Tillamook.
“When I have something tough going on, (sports) has always been an outlet for me to express myself in a more positive way.”
Teams from MacLaren, Camp Tillamook, Camp Riverbend, Camp Florence, and Rogue Valley Youth Correctional Facility competed in the recent tournament.
The semi-final match was a tough battle between Camp Tillamook and the MacLaren Bobcats. The game went into penalty kicks, and was still tied. After sudden death penalty shots, the Bobcats came out ahead.
The Bobcats took on the other MacLaren team, the Hawks, for the championship game. The Hawks won.
“This takes our minds off everything,” says D.M., the goalie for the Hawks. “And it builds bonds with the others guys that’s here.”
For the first time, all the teams showed such great sportsmanship that they all tied for the Team Sportsmanship award.
Other awards included:
- Hustle Award: B.C., Camp Riverbend
- Offensive Player of the Tournament: J.N., MacLaren Bobcats
- Defensive Player of the Tournament: J.T., Rogue Valley Youth Correctional Facility
- Goalie of the Tournament: E.R., Camp Tillamook
- Most Valuable Player: J.H., MacLaren Hawks