Practice begins Monday for most fall high school sports

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— It’s not the first practice that’s the sweetest.

Football hangs in the mind of Hayden High School coach Shawn Baumgartner all summer, growing there from the team’s annual summer training camp to Monday, the first day practice for most high school fall sports.

But it’s not the first practice that he’s focused on.

“That first one, that’s all the administrative stuff. That’s what I hate the most,” he said Sunday evening, only about 12 hours before his athletes were scheduled to show up for the first of Monday’s two workouts.

“The second practice,” he continued, “the one in the afternoon, that’s the one I love.”

Questions will run rampant for Hayden High School football early this fall as the squad tries to match last season’s drive to the playoffs in its first year of 8-man football and as it tries to escape from the shadow of the senior class that in large part powered that run.

It will make every early season practice even more important than usual.

“We have some kids that, in our minds, we have plugged in, but we have a lot of unknowns that we need to try to iron out,” Baumgartner said. “We had some juniors who got a lot of time last year and they’ll have to step up and become leaders this year.”

Such questions and the anxiety they trigger in young athletes will linger all across the county when practices begin.

Steamboat Springs High School volleyball coach Wendy Hall said she’s nervous and excited, and she spent all week making notes to herself about the first week of practice.

“It’s like Christmas Eve,” she said Sunday.

Still, she acknowledged that the girls probably are even more excited and nervous.

“If they’re not, they don’t have any business being there,” she said.

Her first week of practice will start from square one because she’s learned time and time again that when it doesn’t, things quickly can go wrong.

“It doesn’t matter how good some of the girls are, we always have to work on basics and make a quick review, just to make sure all the fundamentals are clean,” Hall said. “Whenever I skip over those basics, we end up having to backtrack.”

For volleyball players and high school athletes across the county, Monday represents a trip back the basics and a new beginning. The high school sports season has begun.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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