Luke Graham.

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Luke Graham.

Luke Graham: The week that matters the most

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Luke Graham

Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Luke here.

The winter prep sports season might be the most interesting one of the three seasons.

Essentially, it's broken down into two parts - the pre-holidays season and the "real" season after the New Year.

So, despite the hot starts from some teams (see Steamboat hockey, Hayden girls and boys basketball, and Soroco boys basketball) and slow starts from others, the pre-Christmas slate really doesn't mean a whole lot.

The next two weeks can make or break a team's season.

Starting Wednesday, paid high school coaches cannot have any type of contact with their players, according to guidelines from the Colorado High School Activities Association. That means players will go more than a week without an organized practice, which makes some coaches cringe.

When I played high school basketball, we did little to nothing basketball-related during our holiday break. Instead, we went snowmobiling, watched movies, ate lots of food and made the corner of the couch our new best friend. Maybe we'd go to the gym and shoot free throws.

The first post-break practice always was brutal.

So what are teams and athletes to do?

The holiday break is when a team's desire to win is put to the test. Players have to take it upon themselves to stay in shape and refine their games.

Basketball teams will have open gyms, skiers will have ample opportunities to go on the mountain, and hockey players will have every chance to hit the ice and stay in shape.

Certainly, players and teams should enjoy the time off. But they also should remember that if they want their season to be successful, getting into the gym, on the mountain or skating with teammates will go a long way.

Take it from someone who has been through three early playoff exits in basketball - making the couch your best friend isn't the best way to go.

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