This season's girls lacrosse team will be a mix of veterans and interested newcomers.
The sport is growing in popularity in Steamboat Springs, which excites first-year coach Kevin Nerney, a lacrosse veteran.
"It's a great game," he said. "I love to be involved in lacrosse. The girls are a lot of fun. They are enthusiastic about playing, and they want to improve, so that's exciting."
Nerney began playing lac-rosse nearly 35 years ago, when he was in seventh grade. He's also one of the few local lacrosse referees. His daughter, Marykate Nerney, is a senior on this year's lacrosse squad, so he was happy about the opportunity to take over the girls program.
He hopes to provide more stability to a program that has undergone a series of coaching changes in recent years.
"The general core of the team is returning members, and they've played for years," Nerney said. "But there are promising freshmen and sophomores coming into the fold."
Nerney grew up playing a different style of lacrosse than the one he will be teaching to the girls. Contact is allowed in boys lacrosse, but there are strict restrictions on what is allowed on the girls' side.
"Girls lacrosse is more of a finesse game," he said, but the fundamental skills are the same for both genders.
Twenty girls are out for the sport this season, and Steamboat has three home games scheduled for the spring. Continued mild weather may help the Sailors actually get to play their home games in town this season.
The girls lacrosse team has spent much of its time indoors practicing, Nerney said, however, the team was able to get out on the parking lot at Emerald Park to spread out.
"It's not grass, but at least it's bigger than a gym," he said.
The Sailors opened the 2005 season Friday against Denver East in Denver. Steamboat's next game is against Thomas Jefferson on March 19 in Denver. The Sailors are the only mountain team playing lacrosse, so they are members of the Jefferson County (Jeffco) League this year.
This year's seniors are Kelly Ascher, Kelsey Comeau, Ali Fete, Carly Helm and Marykate Nerney.