Spring sports on tap for Eagle Valley High School
The Eagle Valley is digging out of its latest blanket of snow, but for Eagle Valley High School athletes, spring is already in the air.
Spring sports practice began last week and the Devils are hoping for great success as they finish out their 2014-15 season.
A new guy is at helm with head coach Bobby Ecker.
During the day, Ecker works at Berry Creek Middle School as a moderate needs paraprofessional/special needs teacher’s assistant, and he’s a recent graduate (2013) from the University of Arizona, where he played four years of lacrosse, and served as a captain his senior year. Ecker said his No. 1 goal, above all else, is to create a sense of family within the team.
“This year I am looking forward to working with the group of boys we have. We have a special and talented group of young men,” said Ecker. “We have a strong senior class who will be great leaders for our program. Ecker stressed that the players and coaches are hard-working and committed to achieving success, while having a blast doing it.
Senior Quinn McCord can’t wait for the season to get started – to show off all the hard work he and his teammates have put in during the off season.
“Our team chemistry is the best I’ve ever seen it be and I’m eager to see the brotherhood it creates through the next couple months,” said McCord. “I hope our senior class of 2015 can create a winning attitude for the future of the program.”
Ecker’s passion is contagious, and his eyes light up when talking about sport. The team’s first game is March 6 against Telluride. “We strive to be the team who plays the hardest and works the other team off the field,” said Ecker. “One of our biggest philosophies for our games this season is going to be ‘grit.’”
With the new coach, stats or wins aren’t his focus, because he believes that games are not won on paper.
“The team who truly wants to win the most will prevail, but to achieve that we know that the will to win lies within the will to prepare to win. We plan to have our heads, our hustle, and our hearts in the right place for the season,” said Ecker.
Head coach Stephen Baxter is ready, and he knows what to expect after 12 years of coaching under his belt.
This is his second year at EVHS. Due to overwhelming interest in girls soccer this season, the coach’s first couple days of practice will actually be tryouts. After that, it’s full steam ahead.
During the day, Baxter is currently on detached duty from the United States Coast Guard as an instructor pilot at the High Altitude Aviation Training Site (HAATS), where helicopter power management is taught to aircrews from around the world.
“This season is exciting as we have a great deal of inbound freshman talent coupled with a core group of sophomores, juniors, and seniors,” said Baxter.
His no-nonsense approach includes incorporating personal nutrition, situational awareness and girls knowing their role on the team. The first week of practice will include technical skills strengthening, formation prep/study and positional ownership.
Junior Hannah Lauder is looking forward to another great year with Baxter in charge. “I’m really looking forward to playing with my amazing team this year as we improve to become better players together,” said Lauder.
BOYS & GIRLS TRACK
Head coaches Jeff Shroll and Melinda Brandt have been coaching EVHS runners for a long time — in the fall for cross-country and in the spring for track.
The coaches are looking for another solid performance from both teams — they always have huge numbers, yet still keep the feeling of one big family. Shroll, who is Gypsum’s town manager by day and Brandt, who is a super mom by day, exude tons of energy and not only manage all those student-athletes, but also coach them to success.
“I’m looking for another solid performance from both our boys and girls teams,” said Shroll. “We lost a lot of point scorers last year and I’m excited to see who will step up, and through hard work, will take their place.”
Both coaches are known for their abilities to give kids the right tools to improve no matter what their events are. Shroll said that his hope is that track makes kids better in other sports as well.
“Hopefully those who participate in track will be better in their other Eagle Valley sports by becoming less afraid of tough workouts and learning proper running form and speed development,” said Shroll.
The first week of practice, kids can expect some general conditioning to help coaches determine what’s needed in the way of conditioning. Then, the focus will be to develop individual and season goals.
Sophomore Charise Crabb can’t wait to get going.
“We are like a big family. The team is really supportive and it’s fun to watch everyone succeed,” said Crabb.
Senior Cristian Aguilar agreed.
“I’m super excited to see what can be accomplished this year, not only individually but as a team too,” said Aguilar.
Aguilar believes the boys team can bring home a regional championship — which would be the third consecutive year that the team would earn that trophy.
“What other way to go out for this senior class, right? We have some pretty high expectation this year,” said Aguilar.
Head coach Jesse Meryhew is overwhelmingly popular with players, parents and other coaches at EVHS. He’s beginning his fourth year with Devils and is excited for the senior leadership this year.
“We have a great group of young men back this season who love baseball,” said Meryhew. During the day, Meryhew works for Skyline Mechanical, Inc. Meryhew stresses his athletes to always play hard, play smart and give the maximum effort — in practices and games.
“You never know who is watching. ‘Work’ is a positive word,” said Meryhew. “It is how you accomplish your goals and get what you want out of life.”
His players are just as excited to return to the diamond.
Senior Harrison Stevens is looking forward to seeing some young guys step up and fill some key roles.
“I feel that we can accomplish some great things this year,” said Stevens. “A lot of guys have been working hard either during other sports and/or off-season workouts so I am expecting a solid season from the team this year.”
Meryhew has some fun planned for the first week of practices … a lot of burpees and running.
Said Meryhew, “We will also work on fundamentals, hitting, fundamentals, hitting, fundamentals…”
Head coach Blake Scott grew up in the area and is currently the assistant golf professional at the Gypsum Creek Golf Course. He’s spent the last eleven years teaching golf – and that’s exactly why the EVHS girls golf team is so lucky.
Senior Jessica Long can’t wait to get started. “We have a great new coach and we are looking forward to a very successful season – team and individually,” said Long.
Scott’s laid-back style and expert skills, along with his teaching abilities, make him the perfect guy for a successful program.
“I’m very excited that we have a solid group of lady golfers who are hard workers, energetic, and very talented,” said Scott.
Scott said the team has a head start on the season.
“The EVHS golf team has an amazing facility at the Gypsum Creek golf course to play and practice,” he said. “We are looking forward to good weather to start off the season.”
Girls lacrosse is fun to watch – there’s more finesse involved than the boys version of the sport.
Head coach Stephanie Renzelman, who works as a court judicial assistant during the day, knows what it takes to be successful, and she’s excited that she has a great mix of experience and new blood on the team, with a lot of those girls having club experience. It give Renzelman high hopes for a better, more advanced EVHS team.
“My highest priority for the girls is that they always work hard, both on and off the field,” said Renzelman. “A lot of people have heard the saying ‘hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,’ and I suppose you could say that’s my coaching philosophy.”
Renzelman expects girls to show up to practice and games ready to give it everything they’ve got.
“There’s a lot of pride that comes from being apart of the Lady Devils lacrosse team, however it’s import for the girls to understand that success isn’t just given,” said Renzelman. “It’s earned.”
Renzelman said that the first week of practices will be a lot of conditioning and fundamentals and that the girls should expect that it will be difficult.
“Cori Cramer (assistant coach) and I are both so excited for this season and we are incredibly anxious to get started,” said Renzelman.
Senior Sarah Cooper said that players are equally excited for the 2015 season.
“I can’t wait for an awesome season with an amazing team,” said Cooper.
Renzelman said the focus will be finding athletes who are dedicated and willing to work hard relentlessly — and she doesn’t think she’ll be disappointed.
“The girls that are willing to show up to practice everyday and give 100 percent are the girls who will make this team and season spectacular,” said Renzelman.
All of the spring coaches encourage the community to come out and watch the kids in action. To check out all of the EVHS spring sport competition schedules, visit http://www.oneschoolstreet.com/sports.php?school_id=64.