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  • Ednold

Tualatin 11/19/21

This week’s choice of games was made easier by the fact that there were exactly two teams playing games at their home campus, one of which we had already visited a couple of years ago. So, we joined the other suckers in the Friday rush hour traffic and made our way to Tualatin. Little Ednold wasn’t riding with us, but we would be meeting him there, so I made sure to put on my best dad outfit. Sometimes I can almost hear the high school kids whisper as I walk by: “who is that cool guy in the crocs wearing a tweed cap and a fanny pack”? I like Little Ednold to feel proud sitting next to me. Tualatin is located in the southeast corner of Washington County with the extreme eastern end of town sticking out into Clackamas County. Until relatively recently it was a tiny place, but the gravitational pull of Portland is strong, and has sucked Tualatin into its orbit over the past few decades.

The settlement was originally called Galbreath, after its founder Samuel Galbreath, but in 1853 Galbreath built a bridge across the Tualatin River. Since no good deed can go unpunished, everyone stopped calling the village Galbreath and started calling it Bridgeport. I bet he never went to all that trouble again. Then, in the 1880s, a guy named John Sweek formally platted the town and changed the name again to Tualatin, after the river, which today separates the town from Tigard to the north. Nobody’s certain what the word tualatin meant to the Kalapuya natives, but the leading contender is “lazy”. That’s my kind of place. Tualatin got its first post office in 1869 and was incorporated in 1913. Tualatin first had a high school in 1909, but the last seven people graduated from that school in 1936 and it was shut down. From then on students from Tualatin attended either Sherwood or Tigard high schools, but by 1990 Tualatin had grown to the point where the Tigard School District became the Tigard-Tualatin School District. Two years later Tualatin had a high school of its own again.

I hate to bring my own family into another story, but the truth is we are kind of responsible for the town of Tualatin getting that new high school. Improbable, you say? Check this out: I had a great grandma, Addie, who had a half-sister named Minnie who was a school teacher in Albany in the early 1900s. Minnie’s husband William was the school superintendent and was also the owner and publisher of the Albany Democrat-Herald newspaper. With me so far? Minnie and William Jackson had a son named Glenn who grew up, graduated from Oregon State, and eventually worked, and connived, his way to be chairman of the board of Pacific Power and Light. He also had lots of other side businesses. When Governor Mark Hatfield needed a new chairman for the Highway Commision in 1962 Glenn got that job. Someone asked Hatfield if Jackson didn’t have too many conflicts of interest. Hatfield’s reply: “He has so many conflicts they cancel each other out”. Jackson had a reputation for getting things done, and he did get things done, as long as he personally benefited in some way. He oversaw the building of the interstate highways in Oregon and some of our biggest, most-traveled bridges, but he was a total slimeball.

Tualatin High School

Anyway, Tualatin’s population in 1970 had been 750. By 1980 it was 7,348. That’s almost a 1000% increase! What was going on? Well, let me tell you more about Glenn Jackson. When Interstate 205 was being built through east Portland in the early 70s, one of the biggest decisions was where to connect it with the already-completed I-5 freeway. Eventually Tualatin was chosen as that spot. I can’t imagine too many people were surprised to later learn that Jackson’s private company had bought 184 acres of land in Tualatin shortly before that announcement. The town has grown explosively since the mid-70s and today Tualatin has almost 30,000 people, all because my cousin Glenn wanted the value of his land to go through the roof, and it did. He and I never spoke after that. Maybe because he was 75 years older than I was and didn’t even know I was alive. I prefer to think it was due to my moral outrage. Whatever the case, by the time he died in 1980 Jackson was worth dozens of millions of dollars, not a penny of which was ever seen by the Ednold family, and every time I drive over that big stupid bridge across the Columbia with his name on it I say a few bad words under my breath. So, that’s Ednold's connection to Tualatin High School.

We left the freeway and headed west into the heart of Tualatin. The town definitely has the feel of a place that has sprung up out of nothing over the past fifty years. There are several upscale shopping areas with lots of chain stores and restaurants. They’re the types of places you can support when you’re a big-city suburb with the state’s biggest road running right through the middle of town to bring in shoppers and eaters from all over. It’s all shiny and modern, and there’s even a man-made lake in the middle of it all: Tualatin Lake at The Commons. It’s like a big city park surrounded by strip malls and apartments, which is actually better than it sounds.

We parked the bucket next to that lake, met up with Little Ednold, and headed into the G-Man Brewery not far away. This was our last road trip of the season and we marked the occasion with a little pre-game snack at what turned out to be a huge sports bar. There were more TVs than I could count, even in the heated outdoor patio area where we were seated. The Prison Yard IPA sounded tempting, but I went with their Double-Berry Shotgun lager. I’ll still be the first person to tell you that fruit has no place in or around a glass of beer, but that Shotgun made me seriously consider whether I was wrong. Of course I’m not wrong, but I at least considered the possibility.

We left the G-Man with plenty of time to get to the high school and find relatively decent parking places in one of the two huge lots on either side of the school building. It’s a more conventional-looking school than the one we saw nearby at Mountainside, but it’s still a massive campus compared to most of the places we’ve been. The field is located behind the school to the east, and we paid our $8 each and continued east to the grandstand. It’s a very big structure in two tiers with a walkway between the upper and lower sections. It’s aluminum seating, but it's roomy and there was plenty of space even for a big game like this one was. A roof extends over the top tier but, though the night was chilly and overcast, the roof wasn’t necessary on this night. Across on the east side of the artificial turf, the visitors’ bleachers have been built into the side of a berm and would serve as a pretty nice home side at many smaller schools. The concession building between the entrance and the grandstand is large and has windows on both the front and back sides, doubling the service capacity. It’s an arrangement that other schools might want to copy. The service was fast and friendly and both their coffee and popcorn were a cut above the usual. Given the rest of the facilities it was odd that the restrooms are just portable toilets, which are the weak link in Tualatin's otherwise impressive set-up.

East side visitors' seating

Before the new high school opened in 1992 middle school students who would be attending the school voted on the school colors and mascot, and chose to be the red and black Timberwolves, which inexplicably got more votes than the brown and chartreuse Fighting Nutrias. I just made up that part about the Nutrias. Just wishful thinking I guess. The Tualatin High logo was basically copied from Texas Tech University. It works, but it would have been nice if someone had come up with something a little more original.

West side home grandstand

This game was a 6A quarterfinal matchup between the #3 ranked, 10-1 Timberwolves and the #6 ranked, 9-2 Summit Storm of Bend. Incredibly, with that one loss the Timberwolves finished third in Special District 5 because the top two teams in the state, Lake Oswego and West Linn, are also from District 5. In fact, the fourth place team from that league, Lakeridge, had a losing record in the league but is still one of the final 8 teams alive in the playoffs. District 5 is tough. Summit finished second in Special District 6 and were the only one of the final 8 surviving teams from outside the Portland metro area.

The Timberwolves have lost both of the state championship football games they’ve played in, to Sheldon in 2007 and Aloha in 2010, but they’ve won lots of championships in other sports. Their girls soccer team has been champion five times and the girls water polo team has won four championships. And for a while they were a cheerleading powerhouse, winning seven state championships between 1994 and 2012. They were even national champions in 1999. More recent success hasn’t been as common, but they did win a softball title in 2018 and their boys won a track and field championship in 2019.

Summit must be pretty good, having beaten South Medford and Roseburg fairly easily in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but they apparently left their offense back in Bend. I could have counted their first down in this game on one hand. Their defense scored early in the game and they took a 7- 6 lead, but their offense didn’t score until late in the fourth quarter, long after the game was out of reach and the clock was running continuously due to the Storm defense giving up 36 straight points. That’s not something you expect to see in the state quarterfinals. It was Little Ednold who pointed out during pre-game warm-ups that the Storm players didn’t look particularly big, and they weren’t. But Tualatin’s players weren’t much bigger. They just executed every play much better and had a speedy running back who broke some big runs when they needed it.

We spent the game at the far end of the stadium from the Tualatin band, but once in a while we could hear some instrumental rumbling from the other end. They sounded good during the few moments that we could hear them, but that wasn't very often. Just as the Summit team had forgotten to bring their offense to the game, the guy in charge of the loudspeaker music during the game had forgotten his good sense. Every time the band would strike up a song the guy would play some canned music over the speakers so you couldn't hear it. And in between literally every single play he would crank up some music for 20 or 30 seconds. And even that may have been tolerable except that his music collection consisted of four songs. Hearing the same snippet of Crazy Train or We Will Rock You over and over and over, especially when the band was trying to play something at the same time, was really irritating. I'm not a fan of the University of Michigan fight song, which Tualatin has taken as its own, but it would have been preferable to hearing Ozzy after each score.

Another first for us at this game was the need for several police officers up in the stands behind us. A mass of unruly, unsupervised children had gathered in that corner of the stands and I'm not sure what was going on but as soon as the cops showed up dozens of 11-and-12 year-olds sheepishly beat a hasty retreat. But if it wasn't the best-behaved crowd we'd been in, they partially made up for it with their howling, since howling like a wolf is apparently a thing if you're a fan of the Timberwolves. There was a full moon on this Friday night and at times it really did feel like we were in the middle of a giant wolfpack. Of course, some people are better at the wolf howl than others, but I think Mrs. Ednold would tell you that I'm a natural.

There are two more weeks of playoff games but, since they'll all be played at neutral sites, we won't be leaving home to watch them. So, after we bade farewell to Little Ednold at the end of the game and made our way back onto Boone's Ferry Road we pondered the end of our travels this season and the Timberwolves' chances of getting back to the title game. And I have to admit I said a quiet thank-you to Cousin Glenn for locating I-5 in such a conveniently accessible spot from Tualatin High School. Maybe he'd been looking out for me after all.

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