By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Erin Hento played a number of sports in her time at McNary High School, but softball was always her focus.
It landed her on the softball team for George Fox University (GFU) where she is getting a degree in sports medicine, but it was a lesson learned at McNary that has defined much of her time and approach in college sports.
“Mike Maghan (McNary’s then-athletic director) set up the Powered by Girls Club for the girls in leadership roles on the sports team. During one of our meetings he told us that as leaders, we need to be servant leaders,” said Hento, a 2010 MHS alumna.
That piece of advice has guided her to taking a back seat when it comes to simple things like lining up at the end of the line when the team goes out to eat, but it’s had bigger impacts, too.
“My goal for this last season was to be the best teammate I could be,” she said.
Hento knew she wanted to work in and around athletics even before she got to GFU. She looked into becoming a physical therapist, but didn’t like the idea of working in an office all day.
“I wanted to be out with the teams on the field and in the gyms,” she said.
Part of her studies included interning at Portland State University for the Vikings’ football team last fall.
“I got to spend the entire season with them and worked with players every day doing evaluations and taping them up. I went to every single home and away game, which I didn’t expect. We went to California, Montana, a little bit of everywhere,” Hento said.
Working at PSU solidified her choice of career and cultivated a desire to work at the college level. This fall, she’ll begin pursuing a master’s degree in movement and leisure science at the University of Idaho, and work as a graduate assistant to the physical trainers for the Vandals.
In addition to Jeff Auvinen, who was head coach of the softball team when she was a Celtic player, Hento cited the influences of former McNary administrator Bob Jones and assistant softball coach Lucy Shaw as powerful ones in her life.
“Bob was a friend, neighbor and coach for as long as I can remember, and Lucy gave me pep talks on sports and life. All of them challenged me to do my best,” she said.
Auvinen and current head coach of the Celtic softball program, Kevin Wise, both turned out to watch Hento play in her final game for GFU.
“It’s amazing to see them still giving me that kind of support,” Hento said.