Steamboat Springs Assistant coach Judy Parrott couldn't pinpoint the reason behind volleyball's popularity in Hayden.
On one hand, the program has enjoyed varied levels of success, and it's easy to see why young girls would want to be a part of it. On the other hand, many middle school girls are up for trying anything, particularly an extracurricular activity such as volleyball.
All she knows is that 36 girls filled the roster and practices had to be split to ensure enough court time for all the players.
"They were a lot of fun," Parrott said. "They were always willing to learn and listen."
The sixth and seventh grades practiced together with the eighth grade following.
"Actually, it went pretty well," Parrott said. "We focused a lot of fundamentals, especially for the sixth- and seventh-graders. In the eighth grade, we tried to run a setter and encouraged overhand serves. If the seventh-graders were ready, we encouraged them to serve overhand."
Parrott said the middle school's combined record was 20-8. Hayden faced teams from Craig, Steamboat, South Routt, West Grand, East Grand, Rangely, Meeker, North Park and Baggs, Wyo.
With the number of girls out for volleyball this fall, Parrott said she and coach Teresa Rolando tried to keep practices moving with a lot of drills, allowing more girls to be involved at one time.
Parrott said next year the middle school coaches are going to get together with coach Kipp Rillos at the high school to work out a plan to have the middle school running the same types of things as the varsity team for more continuity between programs.