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Addie does some subtraction

Prep Notebook

It was a tough choice, one she didn't really want to make.

But given all the activity in Addie Wiersma's life, the 16-year-old decided she no longer had time to play basketball -- even for a team likely to appear in the state tournament.

So last Tuesday, the Crater High sophomore who started much of her freshman season, left the team. It wasn't a hasty decision. There simply weren't enough hours in the day or weeks in the year to accomplish everything on Wiersma's list.

I've played since I was in the second grade. I was on two AAU teams since I was in eighth grade, said Wiersma. For two months, I was going to Portland every single weekend. It's something I really enjoy, but there were a lot of little things that really didn't make it worth my time.

I've got different priorities. I was devoting all my time to basketball.

She's walked away from a program that her twin sisters -- Chassie and Cherrith -- propelled to a second-place finish in the state tournament two years ago. She was a legacy with the same competitive drive possessed by her sisters.

But whereas the twins' athletic ambitions narrowed to basketball, Addie has many other fires burning. She's her class treasurer and is running for student body secretary. She's involved as a leader for a youth program at Table Rock Fellowship that numbers several hundred junior high and high school students. Youngsters aren't her only concern, however; she also attends to the needs of senior citizens at Jackson House in Talent, and she helps out in her mom's office.

And, she finds time to study. Her grade-point average is just a smidgen below 4.0.

Still, says her mother, Ilene, leaving the basketball team was something that was very hard for her to do. She didn't like the idea of quitting. She has a heart as big as a bear, and quitting was not in her vocabulary. But when she came home with a big knot in her stomach every night. It was time to quit.

Wiersma often talked with coach David Heard about the time demands of playing basketball, softball and volleyball.

Addie's biggest attribute is that she's a leader, Heard says. She wants to be involved in so many things and have a positive impact on as many people as she can. When you're involved in a lot of things, your priorities in life change.

Wiersma is considered a major college softball prospect and is a starter on the volleyball team.

Actually, basketball is her third sport, Heard says. She had difficulty spreading her time around with all the demands head coaches make from June to September. Spreading yourself around and not offending any of the programs is difficult.

One of the things Wiersma gave up at the beginning of basketball season was teaching a Bible study for junior high girls. She plans to pursue some sort of ministry.

She admits she'll miss the opportunity of playing in a state tournament.

That experience would be great, said Wiersma. But the most important part is looking back on how you got there. If you are not having fun during the season, it's not as memorable as it could have been.

Other girls have left Heard's program, but not usually in midstream.

The first things he asks are, `Why are they quitting?' and `Where are they going', Heard says. I don't have to worry about her. She's going to be successful at whatever she does. It's not a case of basketball and some other bad alternatives.

Losing a player such as Wiersma might have rattled Heard earlier in his coaching career. Maybe five years ago, I was a little more selfish about getting wins and losing kids, Heard says. You couldn't lose a game because it was a reflection on you as a coach.

Heard's own priorities have changed now that he and wife Pam have a couple of daughters, 3-year-old Monica and 8-month-old Mallory.

It puts high school athletics a little more where they should be, Heard says. Beating Ashland isn't a life and death situation. I can go home after a loss and play with my 3-year-old and she doesn't care if we lost. That puts things in perspective.

Without Wiersma, Heard's substitution pattern has changed.

Crater began the season with four returning regulars and more players capable of contributing than in Heard's previous five seasons.

With one less player in the mix, it means more playing time for the others. But Wiersma has a competitive fire her teammates will miss.

I think everybody understands, Heard says. We're going to move forward. We have a lot of talent and hopefully this is not going to make a big impact on the floor.

BIG WEEK-- Tonight's Crater-South Medford game is big for both teams.

If South Medford wins, it will give the Panthers a huge boost for their first playoff appearance since 1995. If Crater wins and Ashland defeats Klamath Union tonight, it would set up the first big SOC game of the season Friday when Ashland visits Central Point.

Ashland shared last year's SOC title with North Medford after dropping late-season games on the road at Crater and North Medford. Friday's winner would have the inside path to the SOC's direct berth in the Class 4A state tournament.

It would be the kind of big game we need to have every year, Heard says. But I haven't talked with our girls about it because South could beat us very easily.

(Greg Stiles is a Mail Tribune sports writer. He can be reached at 776-4483 or )