Practices start for Bulldogs
Weather smiled on the opening of practices for Baldwin High School sports Monday. Although it looks like August still may be on its way, the heat wasn't a factor and turnout for all sports was good.
"Keep bringing it on," BHS football coach Mike Berg said about the unseasonably cool weather for Monday's opener. "It's the best thing that can happen for a football team right now."
Unlike a year ago when heat advisories were in effect and so were heat schedules for all BHS practices, it was business as usual Monday and Tuesday. Early practices were at 6 a.m., but the second of the two-a-day practices were at 3:30 p.m., not at 6 p.m. like last year because of the 100 degree heat.
Numbers out for each sport were about the same. There were 65 out for football, 33 for volleyball and 30 for both cross country and tennis. All coaches noted that there could be additions once school actually starts today.
Coach Mike Spielman had 20 boys and 10 girls show up for the first cross country practice at 6:30 a.m. Monday. That's a normal total of 30, but it varies from year to year as far as the break down between boys and girls. Obviously, this year the boys are up and the girls are down a bit.
"We're going to be fine," Spielman said of the teams that both return as defending Class 4A state champions. "School hasn't started yet, so we may pick up a few more. On the girls side, we've got eight really good ones, but we're not sure about one who has an injury.
"We have two really good teams that are going to be right there in the hunt at the end," he said. "Our goals will be the same -- to win league and qualify for state. Then, we'll go from there."
The 65 Berg had show up for football was close to what he expected, but not quite. There are 15 seniors, 13 juniors, 14 sophomores and 23 freshmen.
"We thought we'd have close to 70," said Berg. "There were some kids on the fence who jumped off. I was disappointed. They were sophomores and could have made a difference.
"But, other than that, so far so good," he said of the start of practice, including a number that was really good. "We had the best turnout of physicals ever, with 61 of the 65 having them ready. They came to practice Monday ready to work and you can't ask for more than that as a coach."
Hard work already turned in by most of the players also showed through on the first day of two-a-days.
"We had a good off season," said Berg. "Lots of people were lifting weights and it showed Monday. We weren't tired. The weather may have something to do with that, but we're in shape."
Jim Oatman, who takes over the volleyball program this year after the Bulldogs have made the state tournament for two years running, was happy with the number of players who came out. Of course, it didn't have anything to do with the weather since the volleyball team is the only fall sport that plays indoors.
"It's typical with other programs," Oatman said of the 33 who showed up Monday, with the possibility of another one or two on the way once school starts. "It's right on par with where we should be."
Oatman has coached volleyball for 11 years, including several appearances in the state tourney, so he's no stranger to the court. His first four years at BHS were solely in a teaching role, but he's glad to be back as a coach.
"Basically, I'm seeing the players for the first time," he said. "I did go and watch them a couple of times the last two years, but those teams were mostly the seniors that graduated.
"I haven't seen too much of this year's team yet, but it's a very talented group," said Oatman.
Coach Ginny Honomichl had 30 show up for Monday's first tennis practice. The long-time coach immediately realized she'd have to go to two practices to accommodate that many players on the court.