After 36 years of teaching and nearly 20 years as West Linns softball coach, Jamie LeVeque is moving on

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - Longtime softball coach Jamie LeVeque recently retired from teaching and coaching at West Linn High School.Jamie LeVeque grew up playing baseball and had aspirations of coaching that sport at the high school level. While working at Cleveland High School in Portland, LeVeque hoped to eventually take over that baseball program but the position never opened up.

However, when there was a vacancy for a softball coach, the school approached him about filling it. LeVeque agreed but got off to a rough start. In his first game, he forgot all of the team's gear. LeVeque then set up the team's second game himself without consulting his athletic director and the opponent never showed up.

“I was very green when I started, that's for sure,” LeVeque said.

However, despite knowing little about the sport prior to his first coaching experience, softball became a passion for LeVeque, one that led to two coaching stints at West Linn from 1990-2001 and from 2007-2013, not to mention dozens of youth teams during that time.

LeVeque is now retiring, both as a math teacher at West Linn and as the softball coach, leaving the program in good shape with a strong contingent of returning players and a healthy youth program in tact.

In 1990, the softball position at West Linn opened up along with a teaching job. LeVeque was already living in West Linn and jumped at the opportunity.

“It was the greatest thing that could have happened for me. It was a chance to raise kids in this community and the players and parents were serious about the sport and we were in one of the best leagues in the state,” LeVeque said.

LeVeque's early teams were strong and he continued that tradition at West Linn, routinely getting the Lions to the playoffs despite competing in the same league with the likes of Milwaukie and Putnam, teams that were often state title contenders.

West Linn fielded a very consistent program for a decade and when LeVeque stepped away in 2001, he didn't have intentions of coaching at the high school level again.

“I remember Gene Chamberlain, the Oregon City coach, telling me that he knew I'd be back at some point,” LeVeque said.

LeVeque focused on coaching his daughter Karly's club softball team which saw plenty of success. When the softball coaching job opened up again in 2007, LeVeque wasn't initially interested. The program had struggled over the past few years and was in need of stability again.

With his daughter and his club players still a few years away from playing high school ball, LeVeque took the head coaching job again.

“At the time, I would have preferred not to coach my daughter in high school because that always comes with some good things and some bad things but it turned out to be a great experience,” LeVeque said.

He counts coaching Karly in the Senior All-Star game at Rosemont Ridge Middle School as perhaps the highlight of his career.

The Lions quickly became competitive again and churned out a handful of very talented players. LeVeque ended his second stint as head coach on a very positive note this season.

A very young and raw Lions team improved tremendously throughout the year, taking second place in the Three Rivers League and winning a first-round playoff game in extra innings against Jesuit.

During his tenure at West Linn, LeVeque wore many hats.

He taught summer school, was the event manager for sports during the fall, kept the scorebook for the girls basketball team and ran the intramural basketball program during the winter.

LeVeque is still coaching his daughter's club team and may continue to be involved in coaching at that level in the coming years but is currently enjoying watching her play basketball and potentially softball for OIT.

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