As the cold leaves valley, teams dust off equipment
Tuesday marked the beginning of the final high sports season.
With the spring practice for high school sports getting going, it marks one of the challenging times of year, beginning sports in February that are meant to be played in June.
Across the state, baseball, lacrosse, girls soccer, girls golf, track and field, swimming and tennis all took to the fields and courts despite the cool weather.
“I grew up here, I played high school and college ball here and I’ve coached here for 10 years now, so I don’t do any different,” Grand Junction baseball coach Kyle Rush said. “We have never started when it is warm and we rarely finish when it is warm.”
Rush isn’t alone in the chilly outdoors — swimming is the only spring indoor sport. For the rest, dealing with the weather is a daily task. Rush takes a simple approach.
“If it is dry, it is playable,” Rush said.
Weather aside, there are a lot of challenges for the coaches and teams in the first week of practice. Most teams are dealing with having to make cuts to get to a manageable roster size.
Although getting back onto the field is exciting for the coaches and players, Rush said the first week of the season is one of the worst of the season.
“The first week is hard and not very fun,” Rush said. “We have been averaging 30 to 40 cuts a year and to have to tell those kids they can’t play is not fun. But we can only keep so many.”
Rush said the Tigers’ team will run a three-day tryout, finishing with a scrimmage Thursday.
Rush and the coaching staff will make the cuts that night.
“We have to make the cuts on Thursday because we play two week from Thursday,” Rush said. “So we need to see what we have out here.”
For the players who do make the team, beginning a season is the end of months of preparation. Junior Aaron Berk said he’s been anticipating the beginning of the season.
“We have spent countless hours at Gene Taylor’s just hitting (at The Cage),” Berk said. “Being able to throw on the gear and get out here is exciting because it is the start of the season.”
Grand Junction soccer coach Adrea Tilford could see the excitement from her players on an adjacent field.
“I’m looking out at the players and can feel the energy,” Tilford said. “We have a lot of girls coming back, so we are excited to see them playing as a team.”