Volleyballers show up in large numbers at Pioneer Days

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MARIAH CHEFF attempts to block an attack during the Pioneer Day volleyball tournament Saturday at Bockman Park in Ronan. (Jason Blasco/Lake County Leader)

New resident to Mission Valley Serra Hoagland decided to use the Ronan Pioneer Days as a way to get acquainted with the area.

Hoagland participated in the volleyball and 5K race that was part of Pioneer Days.

“I saw it as a way to get know people in the community,” Hoagland, who moved to the Mission Valley to become part of the Forest service, said. “I was amazed at the amount of youth participating in the volleyball. There was a range of ages here and it was so nice and so fun. This was a fun weekend and I enjoyed all of the Pioneer Days events going on.”

Hoagland has played in volleyball tournaments in Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara.

“I’ve played in a lot of tournaments and I haven’t found a community that is this nice,” Hoagland said. “(The Mission Valley) is so much more friendly than the other tournaments. Everyone is so friendly and so nice. I just felt really welcomed. As someone new to the area, I got to know the community and felt really welcome at this event and in general.”

Hoagland was one of the participants in a Pioneer Day volleyball tournament that went from 9 a.m. to past 5 p.m. to crown the winner of the tournament.

Maidens’ volleyball coach Charla Lake observed there were several contestants from all over the Valley that participated in the volleyball game.

“You are representing Arlee, Mission, Deer Lodge,” Lake said. “There is a very strong connection with the different kids and age groups and it’s a family thing. There are even Ronan graduates that graduated three years ago and are still coming to back to play.”

For Lake, whose Maidens will soon begin the 2017-2018 campaign, it’s a good precursor to the start of the season. Volleyball and football practices will open on Aug. 11.

“Events like this really help our volleyball program for all of Ronan,” Lake said. “It is just really positive and healthy for the community and the entire valley. We have kids here from Deer Lodge, Polson. We have job corps kid and kids that go to SKC participating in the event.”

Chiefs’ head basketball coach and assistant football coach Mitchell Wassum said the event was “fun.”

“There are no other stats at this event other than winning and losing,” Wassum said. “It has been a great way for the Ronan coaches to segway into the volleyball season by putting on this tournament.”

Wassum said he enjoyed the diversity of participants. There were several notable athletes from the area including the Hot Springs’ volleyball team, former Arlee Warrior from the 2017 state championship team and current Dawson Community College player Tyler Tanner, who played with current Warriors’ player Phillip Malatare

“The volleyball tournament was a blast because there was a lot of cameraderie between the alumni and all the different players in various sports,” Wassum said.

Wassum said he hopes for growth in the volleyball tournament in the future.

“We would like it to be 16, a really fun event for the four pools of players, and it would be really fun and smooth,” Wassum said. “I would like to thank the city for taking care of this area. We have the ability to play on grass. Everything in the tournament ran really smooth.”

Happy Cheff, who is one of the players that will be playing for the 2017 Ronan football team, said he enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with friends.

“This volleyball event is fun and it makes it a lot better whenever a tournament is outside,” Cheff said. “It’s fun hanging out with a bunch of people you know and go to school with every day.”

During the summer, many of the students don’t get to see each other, Cheff said.

“In the summer, you are usually at work and have a little bit of play,” Cheff said. “It’s always fun during the summer Pioneer Days to go out and just enjoy yourself.”

Slated to be the Chiefs’ slot receiver, Cheff said the event is an opportunity to “relax.”

“In between it’s fun to relax and everyone is hanging out but during the game, the competition does get intense,” Cheff said. “It’s competitive for sure. Even if you are having fun, no matter what sport, it’s always competitive at Pioneer Days.”

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