More than 40 players -- mostly freshmen and sophomores -- will represent Steamboat Springs this year in boys lacrosse.
In the program's third season, the Sailors once again will play an independent schedule as coach Bob Hiester and assistants Darren Malia and Neal Redfern continue to develop the skills of many first-time players.
Steamboat will play mostly JV teams from several of Colorado's dominant lacrosse programs such as Fort Collins, Mullen and Grandview.
The Sailors picked up an early-season win against Grandview's JV team on March 13, despite limited on-field practice. Steamboat has been confined to gyms and parking lots through the opening weeks of the season, but Hiester did take the Sailors to Grand Junction for two days of training camp outside.
"The majority of our players are freshmen and sophomores, which is great for the future, but we're having to teach a lot," Hiester said. "But they have great enthusiasm and practice hard."
The Sailors welcome back nine or so players with experience at the varsity level, mostly at the midfield and attack positions. Steamboat will be inexperienced on defense and in goal for the most part, but the interest in lacrosse appears to be high based on the large numbers of participants this season.
"I'm excited," said junior Henry Howard, one of the returning players. "You can tell we're building a program here."
Hiester wants to get a team started at the middle school level so Steamboat will have a feeder program similar to the ones the Front Range uses to build its JV and varsity teams.
Since the Steamboat program started three years ago, several new programs have popped up in the Front Range, though the Sailors continue to wish for another Western Slope town to start up its own program, as well.
Steamboat will be on the road for most of its season, but the Sailors have scheduled home games against Englewood and Monarch on May 5 and 8, but as always, those home games are dependent on field conditions.
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