Coaching sparks winning mentality for Hayden football, volleyball
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It’s been six years since the Hayden High School Tigers have advanced to the playoffs.
That’s enough for an entire high school career, plus two years. Enough for two coaches to leave and one to start anew.
As assistant coach for three years, now head coach Matt Linsacum has never seen the Tigers make the playoffs, but this year, he’s in charge.
Aug. 31: vs. Justice, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7: at Simla, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14: vs. Gilpin, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21: at Plateau Valley, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28: vs. Vail Christian, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5: vs. Rangely, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12: at West Grand, 7 p.m.
Oct. 19: vs. Rocky Mountain Lutheran, 7 p.m.
Oct. 26: at Soroco, 7 p.m.
“We had a good summer for the first time in four years,” Linsacum said. “I feel like that’s been huge for us. We had 11 kids in the weight room almost all summer long, which we’ve never had before and a lot of our kids were our seniors.”
Linsacum said he’s changed the offense but jokes that it’s “top secret,” like he’s got tricks up his sleeve. He’s hoping to harness the athleticism on his team, using their speed to spread out the field.
But to get there, the kids need to be in shape.
“I would say this group of coaches has pushed us a lot harder than they have in the past couple of years, and I like that a lot,” senior running back Daylen Frentress said. “So, we’re going to condition more and run more.”
Senior offensive guard and defensive end Hunter Hatcher nods his head. He’s not a fan of the conditioning, but he’s been in the weight room with the other lineman, hoping to provide a strong line for Frentress to run through.
“Good amount of us, mostly lineman, went to the weight room during the summer, so we’re starting to get a little stronger.” Hatcher said. “They are glad to be able to play with the seniors and all that. It makes them really excited, because we’re a really young team, really talented, and they’re all just excited getting to play with each other.”
Linsacum said the numbers on the team are smaller, losing 11 kids from last year and gaining two, but the strength is in the team’s dedication.
“We had some young kids show up this summer too,” Linsacum said. “Liam Frentress has been here every day and he’s Daylen’s little brother.”
Frentress, a sophomore, will compete with junior Reese Kern for some reps at quarterback, which makes for an exciting competition.
Hayden’s season starts next week, when the Tigers play Justice at home on Aug. 31. It’s the first step toward their goal.
Hayden will have tough match-ups this season with West Grand, reigning state runner-up, and long-time rival Soroco. Hatcher and Frentress note that Rangely is also a team they hope to “crush.”
“I think everyone’s goal is playoffs,” Linsacum said. “This team hasn’t made playoffs in a long time.”
Hayden volleyball sweeps Moffat County in season opener
Just before the Tigers swept Moffat County High School — 25-23, 25-17 and 25-20 — in their season opener, the varsity girls from Hayden were anxious to see how they would look after a long summer.
“We had a couple of girls go to camps and some open gyms. We worked for over two hours,” sophomore outside hitter Gracie Day said.
It’s head coach Lexi Cyphers’ second year leading the program, and the girls feel a sense of renewed energy.
Aug. 21: 25-23, 25-17 and 25-20 win against Craig
Aug. 28: vs. Soroco, 5 p.m.
Aug. 31-Sept. 1: at Rangely tournament, TBD
Sept. 7: at Baggs, 4 p.m.
Sept. 8: vs. Hotchkiss, 1 p.m.
Sept. 13: at Meeker, 4 p.m.
Sept. 14: vs. Vail Mountain, 4 p.m.
Sept. 15: at North Park, 1 p.m.
Sept. 21: vs. Vail Christain, 4 p.m.
Sept. 22: at Plateau Valley, 1 p.m.
Sept. 28: vs. De Beque, 4 p.m.
Sept. 29: at Soroco, 1 p.m.
Oct. 5: vs. Rangely, 4 p.m.
Oct. 6: vs. Cap Rock, 1 p.m.
Oct. 12: at West Grand, 4 p.m.
Oct. 19: vs. Paonia, 4 p.m.
“We’ve had a lot of coach changes, and now, we have the same coach two years in a row, so that makes a difference,” Day said.
Cyphers said the enthusiasm comes from the youth on her varsity team, which includes two seniors, three juniors and four sophomores.
“Gracie was definitely one to watch last year when she was a freshman,” Cyphers said. “She just showed so much initiative and energy and just really good work ethic going through the entire season. It’s definitely something I look for in the younger girls: How do you begin the season and how do you end it?”
The mental game is what has challenged the Tigers in the past — getting down on each other and themselves after a bad point or bad set. And that can interfere with team chemistry, so positivity and trust have been a focus.
Junior outside hitter Alex Camilletti believes this year’s team is a lot closer and part of that comes with just being together.
“We’ve been with each other the whole summer, and we’re going to start team dinners,” Camilletti said. “We want to become a family this year.”
Day thinks building a positive, trusting atmosphere starts with having a strong bond with their coach.
“She’s close with all of us individually,” Day said. “We all have a connection with her in some way. She’s not super harsh on us, but she will be if she needs to be. And she didn’t leave us.”
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