Fall athletes report to winter practices
Fall sports are now finished and no one might be happier than Eric Toot.
Although Toot was excited to watch the Baldwin High School football team advance deep into the state playoffs, he was more excited to have his entire team at practice Monday afternoon.
Toot, BHS boys' basketball coach, said the beginning of practice will be a difficult adjustment for the football players, but he hopes their fall success will carry over onto the hardcourt.
"It's going to be tough for them, because it's a tough turn around," Toot said. "It's a good problem to have. They had a great season and I think it will carry over and give them a lot of confidence. Physically, it's going to be a tough week for them. We will try to give them some days off here and there."
Officially, the winter season began Nov. 12, but the football season ended Friday night. Several returning varsity players attended basketball practice Monday for the first time.
One of those was senior Drew Berg, who was happy to be playing basketball again, but said Monday's practice was challenging.
"Since we didn't practice last week, the first day was tough," Berg said. "We are working really hard, so we should be good this year."
One of the biggest challenges for the players will be conditioning. Although they trained for three months on the gridiron, Berg was quick to point out that the two sports require different levels of conditioning.
"Us football guys are pretty sore," Berg said. "It's a lot different than football, because basketball you run constantly, but in football you run for 10 seconds and then you have a break for 25 seconds. They are totally different games, so we have to adjust."
Monday was a day of switching gears and regaining basketball skills for several players. After the practice, Toot was pleased with the players who started this week.
"They were great today," Toot said. "They were excited and ready to be here. They are good kids that want to compete and that's what they did today."
Of course, the BHS boys' basketball team wasn't the only winter sport to start last week. The BHS girls' basketball team and wrestlers also began their seasons.
Both BHS squads also started practice Nov. 12, both with several players missing like the boys' team. The girls' team had several members involved in the fall musical, which took the stage last week.
The wrestling team also had members in the musical and some others playing football. However, wrestling coach Kit Harris was happy to see most of his team at practice Monday.
"The first week went really well," Harris said. "We had small numbers, because of the football team and the musical. We had close to 30 today, so we have good numbers out. It's nice to have the whole group here."
Although all three teams battled small attendance numbers last week, the three coaches were happy with the effort all week and even Monday.
"It went really well," said Bob Martin, BHS girls' basketball coach. "They are always really enthusiastic the first week of practice. They are working hard and I've been very happy with the attitudes. It's been a good start to the season."
Toot said the first week allowed the coaches to spend more time teaching the underclassmen, which could benefit the team in the future.
"The first week was good," Toot said. "We got a chance to work with some of the younger kids with all three of us coaches. We just took advantage of it. Everybody was back today, so we are ready to go."
All three teams are primarily working on conditioning and fundamentals during the early part of the season. Harris said his wrestlers will also begin learning more advanced techniques soon.
"Like anybody else, we are trying to build a conditioning base, but at the same time install some techniques," Harris said. "We will also be adding some drills each week."
The basketball teams have also been sticking to the fundamentals. Martin said he will be adding some of their offensive and defensive schemes before the first game.
However, Toot said he is giving his players a lot of information to absorb before the first game, while teaching some fundamentals.
"We will try to get everything in before the first game," Toot said. "Then we will take advantage of Christmas and focus on the fundamentals. I just have the philosophy that we need to have everything in before the first game in case you need it. Then we will use these first five games to evaluate our teams and see what we need to work on over Christmas break."
There will be a preview for each BHS team in next week's Signal, along with a schedule of upcoming games and meets.