Practices start up at BHS
Monday finally rolled around and with it came not only the first day of school for most of Baldwin High School, but also the first day of fall sports practices.
Football, volleyball, tennis and cross country participants all showed up for those practice openers and the numbers varied. There were more tennis players than a year ago, fewer football players and cross country runners, and volleyball had the same number from last year.
The biggest drop was in football, but there was only one way to go from last year's record of 92 and that was down. Coach Mike Berg sees that as part of what the addition of junior high football a year ago will mean. Usually every year there's a large contingent of freshmen that come out, but they don't last. The junior high program has already weeded them out.
That's one of the reasons why he's happy with the 67 that showed up at 6 a.m. Monday to kick off the new season.
"It's a really good number that showed up in the morning and they were all back in the evening," Berg said of the first day of two-a-day practices. "They are full of enthusiasm. I really like what I see."
There's a good mix, too, with 12 seniors, 16 juniors, 17 sophomores and 22 freshmen.
"We're one team with three parts," he said, of the varsity, junior varsity and freshmen teams. "The varsity has done a good job of keeping the younger kids going through the practices. We're looking forward to getting in shape and learning our new offense and defense."
Cross country was down four runners from last year's 28 when the Bulldog boys were out to defend their three straight state titles. There are 14 boys and 10 girls out this year, although that could change. Last year there were 17 boys and 11 girls.
"Both of them are down a little bit," coach Mike Spielman said. "We got the kids that can help us. Some of them have had good summers of work and will help us at the end of the season."
Coach Ginny Honomichl was the gainer of the group, with 25 girls showing up for the first day of practice compared to last year's 20. That includes the four top players Holly Oakleaf, Carrissa Venable, Kalie Harris and Jamie Lawrenz. Although it's way early, Honomichl likes what she's seen.
"It looks like our quality is better than last year," she said. "We really looked good out there."
The big news out of the tennis squad, though, is that the Bulldogs will play host to Class 4A State ... well, mostly anyway. The dates for the state tourney are Oct. 18-19 and anyone in Baldwin knows that means Maple Leaf Festival. So, the Bulldogs will host the tourney, but it will be played in Lawrence.
As for the team that stayed the same, volleyball, there's a difference in those numbers. Last year out of 40 players there was only one senior. This year there are six seniors, eight juniors, eight sophomores and 16 freshmen.
"That's a lot, but that's not bad," said coach Jill Brown. "It's kind of tough the first day because it's skills day. I hate those first days. The girls do fine, but I'm bored with it."
Brown is also happy with what she saw from those 16 freshmen.
"We've got a strong freshman class," she said. "It's a good class, an excellent class."
What makes that even better is what's ahead of them.
"We do have strong leadership at the top," Brown said of the eight returning varsity players from a year ago.
Of course of concern to all those outdoor sports is heat and humidity. Although there has been a break in this summer's brutal heat, it's supposed to return for the remainder of the week. All precautions are being taken.
"We're on a heat schedule," said Berg. "We will practice at 6 p.m. if we have to. We want to take care of the kids with plenty of water, etc., etc. We're really emphasizing hydrating before practice. We're also having water breaks every 20 to 30 minutes."
Honomichl said the tennis players are getting plenty of water, but other than that it's normal practice.
"We play in it, so we practice in it," she said.