Steamboat Springs High School new girls basketball coaching program takes the team back to basics with pre-season camp
Steamboat Springs — It was back to basics during the week for players hoping to energize this year’s Steamboat Springs High School girls basketball program.
“It’s a whole new environment in the gym,” junior Sarah Heineke said. “We get into our basketball shoes and everything changes. We come together as a team.”
The players are in the middle of a weeklong, pre-season camp. The Sailors are clearly focused on the upcoming season and finding a way to be more competitive.
Despite the sound of bouncing basketballs that filled the air outside the old gym Tuesday, the first game of the basketball season is still a month away. The Sailors new coaching staff hopes to make good use of that time as they prepare. Teams were able to hold voluntary camps this week, but the first official practice will not take place until Nov. 11. Steamboat plans to play in pre-season scrimmages Nov. 17 and will tip-off the regular season the first week of December, when the girls team is scheduled to travel to Roaring Fork for the Brenda Patch Tournament.
Until then, the Sailors players and coaches are taking aim on the basic skills crucial to being competitive. Raya Duryea will be the team’s only senior, and one of nine players who are returning to the team from last year. Despite being young, however, the players on the team feel they can be competitive in the Western Slope League this season.
“I think we will surprise a few people this year,” Heineke said. ”Since so many seniors left last year, the other teams in the league will be thinking this is such a young team, and obviously we are not going to be very good. But we’ve all played together since middle school, and we know how to work together, we know who does what, and I think the other teams are going to learn that we actually do know how to play.”
Heineke and the other veteran players on the team are also excited about a new coaching staff that has brought a renewed level of energy to the hardwood.
George Ibarra will step in as the squad’s new head coach and is bringing a couple of experienced assistants including Lori Raper and Devin Borvansky. Both assistants have a wealth of playing and coaching experience to pass along, and on Monday were eager to share it with the 21 players who are taking part in the camp.
“I’ve surrounded myself with some great coaches,” Ibarra said.
However, even with that experience the coaches are feeling a sense of urgency this week, as they understand that they will have to teach a new system of basketball to the players in a few short weeks. To do that, Ibarra said he plans to spend the early part of the season focusing on the basics that are key to making any system successful.
“The whole system is gong to change,” Ibarra said. “We are going back to the fundamentals — this is basically basketball 101, We are going to be learning to dribble, learning to protect the ball and learning to play as a team.”
Playing as a team is something that Ibarra hopes to stress this season. Once the basics are in place the coach plans to speed up the tempo of the game on the floor, and says he will not shy away from running the ball up and down the court in games this season to take advantage of his players athleticism. But that doesn’t mean the Sailors will not play defense.
“My whole thing is, and I’ve told these girls, that if we don’t win the other team is going to know that they played the Sailors,” Ibarra said. “We are going to be aggressive on defense we are going to push it … we have to learn to leave it on the court, and that’s what we hope to instill with this team and these girls.”
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The Steamboat Springs Board of Education approved a $1,000 bonus for school staff, using a $360,000 budget surplus to reward teachers, paras and other employees for their work during the pandemic.