Taking the next, big step


Junior Olympics on Madras water polo radar

by: JAMIE RUDD/FOR THE PIONEER - The 10 Madras water polo team members that will participate in the Junior Olympics include back row L-R Kyle Hartman, Cade Boston,  Keaton Hartman, Brady Tucker and Vance Schierling. On the front row are Mikayla Weinke, Cirelle Frank, Aurora Gerhardt, Sophie Gemelas, and Melissa Field. Having achieved success in the realms of high school and club athletics, Madras water polo is breaking new ground and heading to the Junior Olympics in Stanford, Calif., this summer.

Ten Madras players qualified in early May and will be competing as part of Oregon Elite Polo, a team comprised of players from around the state.

All qualifying OEP players have been divided by age and gender into four teams for the Junior Olympics and will be traveling around Oregon to practices and tournaments leading up to the event.

Madras boys Brady Tucker, Cade Boston, Keaton Hartman, Vance Schierling, and Kyle Hartman will compete in aquatic centers in the Stanford area July 26-29. On the girl’s side, Aurora Gerhardt, Cirelle Frank, Sophie Gemelas, Mikayla Weinke, and Melissa Field will compete July 31–Aug. 3.

Madras water polo coach Bobby DeRoest is excited for the opportunities that the Junior Olympics will afford his players. “More than anything else, I want to see the Madras kids just have fun and try to learn a little bit, see if they can get seen on the college stage,” DeRoest said.

Many of the participating Madras players hope to continue playing water polo after high school, including rising senior, Cirelle Frank. “It’s super cool to have the opportunity to go to Stanford and play against some of the top teams in the country,” Frank said.

She hopes that, in addition to personal improvement, competing in the Junior Olympics will allow college recruiters to see what she can do.

In addition to opportunity, the Junior Olympics also comes with a cost. Including transportation, food, lodging, and registration fees, the weeklong trip to Stanford will cost each Madras participant over $1,000 out of pocket.

Faced with this significant expense, the players and their parents have turned to the community for support and are thrilled with the outcome. “$10,000 is our ultimate fundraising goal,” parent Michele Gemelas said. Any additional funds raised will roll over to the fund for next year’s OEP team.

So far, the team and their families, partnered with the MAC Trust, have raised approximately $4,600 after holding a car wash at Napa Auto Parts, a hot dog feed sponsored by Erikson’s Thriftway, Earth2O and Costco, and a raffle fundraiser. Raffle winners Mary Smith and Dave Wahl won a quarter cow donated by Field’s Grassfed Beef, and a cord of wood, respectively.

The players are currently selling tickets for their second raffle, scheduled for July 10. At the time of press, prizes include Elton John and the Portland Trail Blazer tickets donated by Bright Wood Corp., and golfing and overnight stays for two, donated by both Eagle Crest Resort and Brasada Ranch, in addition to another cord of wood and quarter cow from Field’s Grassfed Beef.

Christie Young, owner of Madras Bowl, has also offered to hold a bowling night for the water polo team, donating a percentage of the night’s pizza and bowling profits to their fundraising efforts.

The players and their parents have spent countless hours working to meet their goal and the local community has been generous in their support.

“A lot of people have been willing [to donate],” team member Brady Tucker said. “They’ll come in for a car wash and pay $5 and put another $20 in the donation jar.”

Nevertheless, the team still has a long way to go.

“It’s a costly endeavor," DeRoest commented. “But it’s going to be a lifelong memory they’re going to have. I would hope that the community would support these kids and the hard work they’re putting in.”

Further information on donations and raffle tickets can be found at the front desk of the MAC, by contacting any of the players, or by emailing Michele Gemelas at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. — Jamie Rudd.