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Growing up in goggles | Community sports feature
When 2013 Newport High School grad Kyle Nelson leaves Newcastle for Seattle Pacific University to study communications in the coming weeks, he knows there will be plenty of change.
But thanks to a newly formed scholarship from the community club he has called a second home for most of his life, he also knows the same support system he relied on will remain in place.
Nelson was one of two recipients of the Newport Hills Swim and Tennis Club's first-ever scholarship award, along with Hazen grad and childhood friend Amy LeBar, said many of his fondest memories have come in the pools at Newport Hills since he began swimming there as a youngster.
"It has been a big part of my life," he said. "Hanging out with family was always big here, this is where we came. There have been a lot of memories."
From swim lessons as a three-year-old to competitions with his parents and younger sister in the pool and Midlakes League championships as a member of the swim team, Nelson said the club helped him become a more accomplished swimmer in the pool and a more responsible individual away from it. Along with his time on the swim team, Nelson has been a lifeguard at the club and took on a full-time role at the club for the summer, helping with maintenance among other jobs.
LeBar, who has known Nelson since elementary school, said she has been swimming at Newport Hills since she was only five-years-old and has been a lifeguard for the past two years. The 2013 Hazen High School grad and future University of Portland student said the coaches she has worked with on the swim team have allowed her to maximize her ability as a swimmer while never removing the fun from the sport she has come to love.
"They have all been really great," she said. "They have definitely shaped me to be a better person."
Pat Roley, the president of the club's Parent Advisory Board, said beginning a scholarship was as a way to recognize the dedication and work of the kids who make up the Newport Hills swim teams, serve as junior coaches and work at the club as employees and ensure the community of the club continues to impact their lives.
"We thought this was another step to give something back to the team and the kids who go above and beyond," he said. "It is truly a family club."
Criteria for the $750 scholarship included review of scholastic record, community service work and the history and involvement in the club, and Roley said the goal is to increase the financial award in coming years. He added many former Newport Hills swimmers is moving back to the area with children of their own and the hope is that the club can continue to introduce area youngsters to swimming, water polo and tennis along with providing scholarship monies and fostering community involvement.
"It is near and dear to a lot of people and is a big part of their families' activities," he said.