Football, volleyball captains ready to lead teams through unprecedented season
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Being a team captain means being a leader and setting an example. Sometimes it means being the one to give a pregame speech that fires everyone up, and sometimes it means being the teammate who gives 110% every minute of practice.
This year, volleyball and football team captains will spend their fall guiding their team through an off-season since they won’t begin their season until March. The Colorado High School Activities Association released its state-approved, return-to-play plan earlier this month. The plan included dividing sports into four seasons rather than three, and moving fall contact sports to season C that will take place from early March to late April.
Football is arguably more affected, since their season is outside and they’ll have to play in the late winter, rather than the fall.
“I feel like I’m excited still, but I feel like there’s a lot of cons,” said Hayden High School senior Liam Frentress. “It’s going to be super cold for at least the beginning of practices and a lot of snow to shovel off our field.”
Frentress and the Tigers have been working out all summer but lost motivation when they found out they won’t be playing in the fall.
Volleyball’s biggest issue isn’t weather, since they play indoors. Instead, athletes have a few other things to focus on.
To keep her endurance up, Steamboat Springs High School senior volleyball player Marcada Baker plans to run cross country in the fall. Typically, she would compete in club volleyball during the winter, but with that not happening either, she’s starting to consider joining the Nordic ski team.
Baker said a lack of spectators would probably present the biggest challenge once volleyball starts. With the start of volleyball months away, it’s hard to know what could change between now and then.
“If we don’t have an audience, honestly, that’s one of the bigger things that keeps our team alive is the power from the audience and our school keeping the energy up,” said Baker. “That keeps us moving as well. That’s going to be weird not having people watching.”
Regardless of sport, season, experience or grade level, all athletes seem to be focused on two things: being grateful and not complaining. After a sport-less spring, every student-athlete knows they’re lucky to have the opportunity to play the sports they love.
One benefit, particularly for smaller schools like Soroco and Hayden, is most fall athletes play basketball, which will take place from January to March, just before the new football and volleyball seasons. So, they’ll still spend time together and might actually head into volleyball and football stronger than they usually do.
“A lot of our volleyball players also play basketball,” said Soroco High School senior volleyball player Makinley Parker. “So, having that basketball conditioning before volleyball, that’s going to put us in better shape going into it (compared to) having to prepare for a fall sport as you would.”
Gracie Day, a Hayden senior, hasn’t played a full season of volleyball in a few years due to injuries. While she’s hoping to make the most of the season in March, she took advantage of having more time this fall by signing up for more college classes than she anticipated at Colorado Northwestern Community College in Craig.
Hayden junior volleyball player Jillian Bennet said playing basketball before volleyball will certainly be strange, but because the Tigers are so close, they’ll be able to get through it.
“I honestly think our team is well-enough composed, and we’ve all been together for so long as a team, that we can do a lot of good things,” said Bennett. “Even if it does mean that we’re waiting until March to play volleyball. I still think, as a team, we’ll be able to push through and overcome this obstacle.”
Even when looking ahead to playing football in the cold surrounded by feet of snow, Frentress and his team have found a positive outlook.
“We have five more months to train,” he said. “That’s going to give us five more months to get better. So, that’s kind of how we’re looking at it.