There are a lot of new faces on this season's Steamboat Springs girls lacrosse team.
Of the nearly 20 players, seven are returning from last year, so coach Sarah James and the veteran players are doing their best to introduce the difficult sport to the newcomers.
"You have to be real encouraging and patient," senior Brittany Innes said.
The Sailors opened the season last weekend with tough losses to Denver East and Rangeview, but it was the first time many of the players had seen what a full-length lacrosse field looked like.
Parking lots and gyms don't lend themselves to great field-simulation areas, but the weather has allowed several grassy areas to clear so Steamboat can practice skills such as picking up loose ground balls on the right playing surface.
"When we don't have gym time, we do a lot of running," James said. "These girls are fit."
The Sailors' strength will come at midfield behind the play of Innes, Sam Pal and Leah Stettner, all seniors.
After that, Steamboat is introducing a host of new players to the elements of defense and attack, as well as simple stick skills.
Pal remembers getting her start in the sport her sophomore year and growing frustrated at first.
"The first year was tough, especially in games, but eventually it clicks," Pal said. "I tell my sister (Kelsey) that all the time."
Steamboat has scheduled five games at home with the possibility of a sixth in early April. The Sailors, members of the Foothills league, will open the league season against Wheatridge on May 30 at the high school, assuming the snow continues to melt and the football field can dry up.
That gives Steamboat two more games in the Front Range -- four total -- to get everyone on the same page before the games that count begin.
James said the camaraderie she's already seen from this year's team makes practice a great learning environment for players young and old.