New Sailors LAX coach hopes team effort spells championship season | SteamboatToday.com
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New Sailors LAX coach hopes team effort spells championship season

Ben Ingersoll
Steamboat seniors Michael Wong, left, and Ben Wharton battle for the ball in practice Wednesday. The Sailors' first game is Saturday at Glenwood Springs.
Ben Ingersoll

— Things are as different as they ever have been in Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse, yet the Sailors’ mindset couldn’t be much simpler.

“Team. Each other,” senior leader Michael Wong says.

For a program that has sniffed a state championship but has yet to hoist the trophy, Steamboat knows it won’t get there unless the team rallies as a unit.

And the Sailors are going to have to do it under first-year head coach Jay Lattimore, who is getting his first shot to lead a varsity program in his career after coaching Wheat Ridge’s junior varsity program prior to coming to Steamboat.

So things are a bit different in a number of ways. Wong said team conditioning has never been more important in practice since Lattimore took over, and the new coach says his group is buying into the fast-paced approach.

“I’ve gotten a lot of feedback that they like it high speed,” Lattimore said about his team, which has been gearing up for a month or so. “The game has changed a lot, and I’m trying to adapt to that. Rule changes in the game have sped the game up. I’m working hard to get kids a step faster.”

With a new head coach looking to fill out starting roster spots with players who have the ability to reach state-championship caliber, competition is priority number one.

Wong said the group rallies behind a common goal — to avenge last year’s state playoff run, which ended with a 6-4 loss to Air Force Academy in last year’s semifinal matchup.

“I think this group has always had a goal to just be the best we can, especially when it comes to the state championship,” Wong said. “Last year, we felt a little robbed with what we were given. We really want to get a great result.”

The senior said the group is fairly deep in its attack and defense. The team is led by senior goalie Kaleb VanArsdale in front of the net, who will play lacrosse at DePauw next year.

But Lattimore isn’t looking too far past Steamboat’s first two weeks of competition, which begins Saturday at Glenwood Springs. To gauge where this group is and the realistic chances of them getting past that state playoff semifinal game won’t come until much deeper into the season, he said.

“They really don’t know where they stand yet,” Lattimore said about his team. “It’s kind of a process that builds throughout the season. People compete throughout the whole season.”

About 25 to 27 players make up Steamboat’s current varsity roster, which is loaded exclusively with juniors and seniors, but that can change as the season wears on and sophomores prove themselves, Lattimore said.

The team will vote on two captains Thursday during practice. They will be Steamboat’s 2014 representatives for a Sailors team Lattimore hopes carries itself as a group, rather than by a select few standouts.

“Teamwork is definitely the big thing,” Lattimore said. “We aren’t looking for the top three stars to carry our team. We’re looking for 20 to 25 kids to carry the team as a whole.”

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll


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