By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
A year ago, McNary senior Katelyn Lester “never in a million years” thought she would be invited to the Oregon Sports Awards show along with the best athletes in the state or up for the same honor that in 2015 went to former Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Last April Lester was diagnosed with mononucleosis and when the symptoms lingered for months she went to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland for more tests. Lester had a 104 degree fever, severe joint pain, migraines and doctors didn’t know why. A year later, they still don’t.
Due to fatigue, Lester gets out of school everyday at 12:45 and, except for a single serve to open the match on senior night, she wasn’t allowed to play volleyball.
But that didn’t stop Lester from contributing in other ways. One of those was keeping stats.
“It was definitely hard not to play volleyball, just because it was my senior year but I was happy that I got to be part of the team in some way,” Lester said. “I still feel like I made an impact on the team. I went to all of the practices and all the tournaments and games and it was still cool to be a part of that.”
Lester also wanted to show people that even if you have an injury you can still be part of a team.
“You have the freshmen that come in and the program can be intimidating at first because you go from middle school to high school and I wanted to help them get comfortable,” Lester said. “I’ve played with the girls on varsity for years now. I didn’t just not want to be part of that experience anymore.”
Lester has taken the same route with golf this spring, going to practices even though she can’t compete.
And it’s that mentality along with volunteering with OSAA that got Lester one of 12 Play It Forward awards.
The honor, presented by Nike and Providence Health and Services, went to two high school and two college athletes each season, fall, winter and spring.
Of the 12, one will be honored as the Play It Forward Athlete of the Year at the Oregon Sports Awards on June 18 at Nike’s World Headquarters in Beaverton and receive a $2,500 scholarship.
On the same night, the top male and female athlete in each sport will also be announced.
“There’s a lot of amazing super talented athletes that will be at that event,” Lester said.
“Never in a million years would I of thought that I could be there. Even if I don’t win, I still can’t thank them enough for this opportunity. I can’t thank my coaches and OSAA for giving me the opportunity to help people. Even if I don’t win, the scholarship is going to someone who helped people, too, so I can’t be upset about that.”
Lester wants to be a nurse and would be the first in her family to go to college.
Lester’s volunteer work includes the OSAA foundation, which provides athletes in need with clothes, shoes and equipment.
The foundation gets lists from different schools, goes shopping at DICK’S Sporting Goods and then boxes the items up at the OSAA office in Wilsonville.
“That’s one of my favorite things to do because then I feel like I can help athletes all over Oregon,” said Lester, who also volunteers at different championship events—football, volleyball, wrestling and track and field.
Her main job is social media.
“I love sports and I just love helping out,” Lester said.