Hayden Seniors Jamie Waugh and Lauren Branstetter yelled out instructions, sending more than 30 Hayden volleyball players to the floor for warm-up laps Tuesday.
As captains of this year's team, Waugh and Branstetter, along with fellow senior Margie Jones, have been given the responsibility to lead both vocally and by example.
"I'm fine with it," Waugh said. "I didn't know that's what they were going to do."
New coach Becky Burdick said giving the seniors the duty of leading warm-ups and drills helps eliminate the nervousness freshmen and sophomores sometimes feel when practicing with juniors and seniors for the first time.
Burdick said she is excited about the energy and talent level in the Tigers' gym. She was an assistant last year but moved up to coach varsity this season, while Amber Hall, hired last year, sits out on maternity leave.
Two weeks from her due date, Hall was in the gym on Thursday and plans to help out as much as she can, but she feels confident with Burdick and coaches Sally Brach-Morton and Chris Planansky making decisions this season.
"I think it will be a good season, an awesome season actually," Burdick said. "The girls have a positive attitude, and they seem more dedicated this year."
In an effort to provide those interested with the opportunity to play volleyball during the summer, the coaches opened up the high school twice a week for open gyms. Attendance was great, and the simple fact many Hayden players were working with a volleyball this summer should translate into improved play during the fall season.
"There's not a question of winning," Waugh said.
"We want to beat everyone this year."
Wins have been few and far between for the Tigers, but a new season has brought about a new attitude. Waugh said the talent was there for Hayden to be successful last year, but the team didn't come together.
Once again, Hayden finds itself in the tough Western Slope League competing against the likes of North Park and Meeker, state tournament caliber teams. However, the parity in the league should allow the Tigers to figure into the mix.
Hayden opens the season with an all-day tournament Sept. 4 in Aspen.
The Tigers open the home season with a 6 p.m. match against rival Soroco.
JV A and JV B games will precede varsity matches throughout the season.
--To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org