A whole new ballgame for VMS volleyball
EAST VAIL – Calling Captain Jean Luc-Picard, Commander William Riker, Lieutenant Commander Data and Counselor Troy.
The year 2003 will be known as VMS Volleyball – The Next Generation.
The big four of Lara Bossow, Maggie Haslee, Tiffany Allan and Juli Littman have moved onto college. By season’s end, the Peter Abuisi Center, the team’s home court, will be a memory. And, this could well be the last year the Gore Rangers play in Class 1A.
Even Vail Mountain volleyball coach Mike Garvey’s favorite running back Emmitt Smith is an Arizona Cardinal.
Make it so, No. 1.
In the meantime, despite all the changes around them, the Gore Rangers are set for a strong season in the 1A Mountain League.
“I think it’s been kind of nice We’re not even bringing up the past,” Garvey said. “It’s insignificant at this point. We’ve set some standards and goals based on history, but beyond that, it’s history.”
The Gore Rangers in charge of making new history start with captain Lauren Utzig, the team’s lone senior. For Utzig, this will be her first full year on the varsity squad. However, she has been the captain of the junior-varsity team for two years, and Garvey feels she’s up to the task.
“She did a great job of leading that group. So, leadership is not a new thing for Lauren,” Garvey said. “She’s simply going to take it to the next team. She’s taken on that role in a very positive way. She’s worked very hard and understands her responsibility.”
While there’s no denying that the graduation of the Class of 2003 changes the scene, the cupboard at VMS, by no means, is bare.
Last year’s freshmen – Aubrie Apple, Cely Brinkmann and Lindsay Wright – all gained a lot of playing experience in 2002. And, according to Garvey, they are picking up right where they left off last year.
“They were next in line and now they’re taking those spots,” Garvey said. “Their leadership has been phenomenal as has their play. So it’s great to see people leave and some of the other people are there, waiting to walk right in and keep going.”
Your 2003 Gore Rangers also include. Lara Green, Anna Smith, Katie Wear and freshmen Georgia Wettlaufer and Lauren Biegler. Wear will miss the early part of the season, as she is on the mend from a recent auto accident. Wettlaufer and Biegler impressed in camp enough to nab varsity spots.
“It’s going to be game-to-game for the the young players of who’s coming up to sit and, right now, it’s their opportunity,” Garvey said. “But we’ve been tremendously impressed.”
With the 1A Mountain League wide open, it’s not unreasonable to believe that Gore Rangers could repeat in 2003. It certainly won’t be the cakewalk of 2002, but the Gore Rangers could be playing into November again this year.
“It’s the team that’s gong to work the hardest is going to be the team that comes out in the fall because, things at this point, seem to be balanced,” Garvey said. “I believe that we can be that team that can work the hardest and come out on the top.”
Extra Bumps: VMS will be looking for a new home in 2004. As part of the school’s renovations, the gym is going down this winter. In 2005, the team will have a bigger gym with more seating and a practice court. … VMS’ student body is moving to the point where the volleyball team may move up to 2A in 2004. Class 3A is also a possibility for geographic reasons. Stay tuned.
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. He can be contacted at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.