Steamboat Springs In the natural progression and development of a program, this probably was expected.
But ask Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse players Tyler Samlowski, Garret Ehrick and Jack Spady about the growth and recent success of the program, and all three can recall a down time.
The three are the only four-year varsity letter winners on the team. They’ve been through the rough times of getting beat on a regular basis by Front Range teams, at times barely able to compete. Now, the three are a part of a group that’s waiting for Monday’s playoff seedings to come out, the second consecutive year they’ve made the playoffs. The three also have been a vital part of a team that’s won 21 straight Mountain Conference games and now has aspirations of not just getting to the playoffs, but advancing in them.
“No question, it was a good group in there,” Steamboat coach Bob Hiester said. “They were part of the group that was playing as freshmen. These guys didn’t have starting roles, but they played a bunch. We just had the sense they’d be really good lacrosse players.”
Samlowski, Ehrick and Spady have been an instrumental part in the development of the program.
Maybe more so than any other class, this year’s seniors bought into Hiester’s plan. Gone are the days of one-on-one attacks. Instead, this year’s team moves the ball around, usually finding the best option.
Although all 10 seniors have made a distinct mark in that play, it’s been Samlowski, Ehrick and Spady who have been there from the beginning.
But trust them, it hasn’t always been like this.
“The mentality is a lot different in our program now,” Spady said. “Before, it seemed like we were scavengers and at the bottom of the food chain. All these other Denver teams would beat up on us. We’re a lot more respected now. We’ve really been trying to set the tone.”
Although the advent of the Mountain Conference two years ago certainly helped, Steamboat’s level of play has increased incrementally each year. In 2007, the boys’ freshman season, the team was 6-9. The squad went to 7-7 in 2008 and was 13-1 in 2009.
The team, after playing just conference games last season, scheduled more Front Range teams this season.
The season has included a win against Lewis-Palmer, a team that dispatched Steamboat in the playoffs last season.
“It’s been a cumulative thing,” Hiester said. “You could see it coming. Last year, we were close. They were contributing and have been for four years. We made the playoffs and gave Lewis-Palmer a good run. But this senior group wanted it and said, ‘Let’s do it.’”
That let’s-do-it attitude now means the Sailors are beyond just wanting to get to the playoffs.
Instead, the focus shifts to winning a first-round playoff game.
“I know I will be upset if we don’t,” Samlowski said. “We want to get to the second or third round. It would be a real disappointment if we lost."