Since the McAvoy family left Southern California and relocated to Cambria two years ago, senior Jake McAvoy and his sophomore sister, Emily, haven’t reported any hardships: No worries about lost friendships or concern for the unknown.
“I think everything here at Coast Union is pretty great,” Emily said.
“Everyone’s pretty nice here,” Jake added in an on-campus interview during the holiday break.
The Coast Union sports programs certainly have benefited from their presence. Jake, a member of the varsity soccer squad, played an outstanding season of football last fall and will be expected to excel on the baseball team for the second time this spring.
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Emily, whose favorite sport is basketball (she is a center on the varsity team) also plays volleyball and is in her second year playing both sports at Coast.
Coast Union coaches can thank Jake and Emily’s parents, Michael and Mona McAvoy, for encouraging their children to embrace physical activity and competitive sports.
“They wanted us to play sports,” Emily said. “My dad definitely pushed us into playing the sports we play now.”
Jake said his parents drove home the idea that being involved in meaningful sports programs helps young people learn social skills as part of a team, keeps them out of trouble and opens the door to possible college scholarships.
“When we were younger, if we didn’t want to play the sport that dad wanted us to, he and mom would say, ‘It’s fine, it’s cool,’ ” Emily explained. “But,” she continued, smiling, “when we got a little older, Dad would say, ‘What do you mean you don’t want to play that sport?’ ” Emily said she didn’t have to be urged to play basketball.
“I started playing basketball in the second and third grades, and I knew I really liked it,” she said.
She also played Little League baseball until the fourth grade, at which time softball was offered at her grammar school.
The siblings were “really good friends” growing up, Emily said. She enjoyed being part of her brother’s activities. She would “follow along with Jake’s friends and ask to join in on games.” On occasion, Jake’s group would welcome her into the proceedings.
Emily loves basketball but is “not big on off-season training,” she said. “I never really liked it. I prefer to practice with the team, because on my own it seems more like a chore than something I should be enjoying. I love practice.”
She appreciates the guidance head coach Emilie Foster has given, and “I’ve always looked up to seniors Karely (Ochoa) and Crystal (Nunez). When I was a freshman I said, ‘I want to be just like them by the time I’m a junior and senior.’ ”
Emily may not be into year-round workouts, but she admits to being super competitive on the basketball court.
“I’m definitely best at defense,” she said. “I find it more of a challenge to try to prevent the other team from scoring than it is for me to score. I’m good at ball handling and shooting in practice. But when I’m in a game scenario, all of that goes out the door. Definitely, offense is something I need to work on. On defense, I’m very aggressive.”
Foster agrees. “She plays aggressively. Emily is a valuable member of our team,” the coach explained. “She has excellent ball skills, and she has a positive attitude.”
As a junior — his first year playing baseball at Coast Union — Jake started out a little shaky as a pitcher, but after a few outings he settled down and ended up with a 7-1 record.
He pitched 45 innings, mostly against Coast Valley League foes, struck out
35 batters and gave up just 18 earned runs for a 2.80 earned-run average.
He gives credit to head coach Brian Machado. “He really saw that I could be a good pitcher. He gave me chances to prove myself. I am grateful for what he did.”
Jake had a solid season at the plate as well, batting .262 and knocking in 18 runs. On defense, he made just three errors in 23 games.
What does he need to work on this spring? Jack said he needs to adjust his move to first base, and his footwork and confidence need some shoring up.
“I need to learn to hold the ball the right way with my curve ball and let the ball do the work instead of me trying to force it.”
This past fall, Jake went out for football, his first foray onto the gridiron since his freshman year when the family lived in Colorado.
His friends “convinced me a time or two” to go out, and the soft-spoken, polite, 5-foot-10 young man decided to “give it a shot.”
His effort certainly provided a shot in the arm for head coach Bill Clough’s defensive unit, as Jake led the team with 30 solo tackles and assisted on 16 others. He chipped in on offense as well, catching 10 passes for 182 yards in eight games.
Of playing soccer for the first time in his high school career, Jake said, “Tell me what to do, I’ll do it. I’m a mobile person — you can move me around.”
He has played goalkeeper and forward, and has the speed to keep up with swift opponents.
After graduation, Jake is thinking of heading to Northern California to attend either Butte College or College of the Siskiyous, and do some pitching along with his academic pursuits. Emily hopes to study journalism at a four-year university.
She has two years to decide between Seattle University and UC Santa Barbara, and even though she said she “loves the rain” — which she would get plenty of in Seattle — she admits her parents would probably prefer that she study in Santa Barbara.