Luke Graham

Luke Graham

Luke Graham: The ideal program

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— High school sports are cyclical. Teams often make several-year runs and playoff appearances, then have to rebuild. It’s not a foreign thing at any level, but maybe it’s just more visible at the high school level.

Take any program in the area, and it’s almost certain to go through a string of good years, followed by several of rebuilding.

But there are those rare occasions where programs don’t ever get that lull. They are competitive year-in and year-out.

Walking around Emerald Field on Wednesday, it wasn’t hard to see why soccer in Steamboat Springs remains an ideal program, with an ideal model.

At the high school level, the Sailors have been a model of consistency for years. Playoff spots are the norm, double-digit wins are the regular, and from year to year, there may not be a more consistent and successful program in Routt County.

There are multiple reasons for this.

From the top of the Steam­boat Springs Youth Soccer Association on down, things are in place to equal success.

The feeder program remains the gold standard in town. Children can start playing young, even at 5 years old, and develop skills.

By the time they are 11 or 12 years old, they can play competitively as a traveling team, matching up against some of the better competition across the state, including the Front Range.

But what also was striking about Wednesday’s practice was the coaches at play. High school coach Rob Bohlmann was working with the girls U13 team. Technical director Hobey Early was with another team.

Finally, guest coach Tony Roberts, who comes in for three weeks every fall to help the program, was meandering his way around to multiple groups.

Roberts works for the English Football Association, where he puts on coaching clinics for coaches just beginning, or even those trying to break into, the professional game.

Roberts’ knowledge with the game really is unmatched. But beyond that, it was his approach that was the most impressive.

Any guy that can hold the attention of 25 seventh-grade girls and get his teaching points across knows what he is doing.

Maybe no team, especially this fall, speaks to that success like the Steamboat Springs High School boys soccer team.

The Sailors lost a ton from last year’s Western Slope League championship team. Six seniors graduated last year, and a quick look at this year’s roster may have given the impression it was a rebuilding year.

But with Saturday’s 2-1 win against Eagle Valley, Steamboat’s again in the thick of things in the Western Slope League.

The team is in second place, a game behind league leader Battle Mountain.

The two teams who have dominated the landscape of high school soccer in the area for a good portion of the past 10 years, will meet again at 6 p.m. Oct. 14 in Steamboat. All signs point to that game potentially deciding a league champion.

That consistency is unique to see at the high school level and just another testament to soccer in Steamboat Springs.

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