The Astoria Lady Fishermen landed a league title and also made it to the state playoffs this season for the first time in over a decade.
Now they’ve earned another honor: an invitation to participate in an elite basketball competition in Alaska next year.
“The 2018-2019 basketball season truly marked a level of success and accomplishment in levels of achievement that have not been witnessed by Astoria High School in recent decades,” Principal Lynn Jackson told the Astoria City Council during a presentation Monday night.
“In fact, literally, not in the lifetime of the young ladies seated behind me has Astoria High School achieved such success,” he added with a nod to members of the Lady Fish listening in the audience.
The invitation to participate in the ACS Pepsi Invitational in Anchorage is an honor and an opportunity — it will be the farthest away the team has ever played — but it comes with corresponding logistical issues that have proven to be difficult.
Estimated travel costs come to around $9,000. Through fundraising and donations from local businesses, the team has managed to raise close to $3,000.
Jackson closed by noting that all but one student will return for the next season. The team plans to reach out to community partners for help in raising the remaining money, but will continue to do its part to raise the necessary funds.
“We couldn’t be more proud of our young ladies and the great work that you’ve done, so congratulations to you,” Mayor Bruce Jones said.
Jackson was about to step down from the podium when Jordan Schnitzer, a prominent Portland philanthropist and real estate developer who was in town to present the Friends of the Astoria Column’s annual report in his role as president of the group, turned in his chair.
“Are you going to make the ask?” he demanded of Jackson jokingly.
Sure, Jackson replied. Would the Jordan Schnitzer Foundation consider contributing to the teams’ travel fund?
Schnitzer stood up and announced, yes, indeed, the foundation will gladly give the team $5,000 — with one condition.
There had been a suggestion to name the traveling team in honor of Schnitzer, but he suggested an alternative: Name the team after Michael Foster, a teacher, community booster and early supporter of the Astoria Column, and Hal Snow, a former long-serving city attorney who also championed the Column. Both men died in 2016.
“It’s important that we remember those who came before us and did so much that we all benefit from just as you will all leave your legacy for generations to come after you,” Schnitzer said.