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Let the games begin

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Happy new year, everyone.

Eagle Valley boys’ golf begins tryouts today at Cotton Ranch. Battle Mountain will be doing the same at Eagle-Vail. In one week, football, volleyball, softball, soccer and cross country report. And thus, we begin “High School Sports 2006-07.”

As usual, the summer has passed all too quickly, but by this time of year, I am charged up for another go-round. What are we going to see this year?

Eagle Valley football is coming off a 10-2 season and a resounding win over Palisade to win the 3A Slope. Battle Mountain soccer is looking at a three-peat. Huskies cross country is loaded. In Edwards, Vail Christian has a new campus and high hopes for its 8-man football team and its spikers.

In East Vail, Team Disposition of its Psyche (aka Vail Mountain Soccer) will make a run at wearing orange in the postseason, as well as investigating the mystical power that is Big Papi. VMS volleyball moves up to the 2A Slope for a new challenge.

And speaking of volleyball, is Battle Mountain fielding a team this year?

These are just a few of the plot lines in only the fall, and I don’t doubt that surprises will abound as teams start into the action.

With everything so fresh ” its a great time of year, ain’t it ” I figured that it’s a good time to dispel a few myths and outline how the Vail Daily hopes to cover the Devils, Gore Rangers, Huskies and Saints.

Myths

” Let’s clear this one up quickly. For our good friends downvalley, I am not ” nor have I ever been ” and agent or employee of Battle Mountain High School. I know I have been covering the Huskies for nine years now ” wow, that’s a long time ” but the perception that I have a vendetta against Eagle Valley is nonsense.

I did not graduate from Battle Mountain. I’m Class of 1990 from San Francisco University High School. UHS’ mascot? The Red Devils. Make you feel better, Eagle Valley?

When the schedule allows, I love covering Eagle Valley. I can tell you that we all were cheering in the press box in Eagle-Vail last year as we got reports via cell phone that Devils football was smacking around Palisade.

Having covered the Gambles, the Smiths, the Sterkels and the Kottenstette (I just put that in there to prove I could spell Kylan’s name), you’ve got to love covering Eagle Valley.

Would I like to see the Eagle Valley-Battle Mountain football game a little closer?

Sure. I’d like this to become a true rivalry, instead of the Devils annually creaming the Huskies. Toward that end, I’d like to see Eagle Valley challenge Battle Mountain in sports in which the Huskies are more dominant like volleyball and soccer. Packed houses and stadiums and tight games between in-county rivals make for great copy.

” That brings us to my favorite kind of voice mail: “You’re making the Huskies/Devils lose. You want the Huskies/Devils to lose.”

I didn’t know that Vail Daily sports writers were that powerful. If I were, don’t you think I’d be applying my new-found strengths to my golf game? If you’ve ever had the misfortune of seeing me play, the answer is a resounding yes.

Seriously, we want to see all four schools succeed, if not for the simple reason that it makes our life easier. If teams lose, coaches often don’t call in from the road or are understandably short in their postgame interviews. There are fewer good story lines and readers generally don’t think much of our articles.

When teams are winning, coaches call in from the road and are eminently quotable. (I say this in a nice way, but after a big win, it’s hard to get Vail Christian’s Sheldon Kuhns or Battle Mountain’s Philip Tronsrue to shut up.) There are lots of good stories, and lo and behold, we’re much better writers in the eyes of our readers. Everybody’s a happy camper.

So much for being omnipotent.

” VMS and Vail Christian are “small” schools.

Yes, in size, but not in importance. Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley are the big dogs/Devils in our coverage area, but the Gore Rangers and Saints merit equal coverage. Just go to The Bob for a VMS playoff game when the entire school ” from tots to teachers are in orange ” or a Vail Christian basketball game, when again the entire community is out, and you’ll understand.

These schools are just as big in stature.

Coverage

The game plan is simple, in theory. Ian Cropp and I try to cover every home game the four schools play in person. When teams are on the road, we rely on the coach of the team to call in with a score and a few quotes.

This, of course, gets blown out of whack by Murphy’s Law which dictates that all four teams will have home games of some form on one day and then all be on the road the next. (If you think this is a joke, check out the basketball schedule in the winter. It happens every year.)

In these instances, we do our best to pick and choose which games we can cover. We don’t want to make these decisions, but physics demand it. That decision will generally be prioritized on two factors:

” Battle Mountain-Eagle Valley or Vail Christian-Vail Mountain matchups or any combination of the four trumps everything.

” The best game ” If a team is the hunt for a title and playing a game critical to those chances, say an Eagle Valley-Palisade football game or a Battle Mountain-Steamboat volleyball game, that will get priority. It doesn’t mean we like another team any better or worse. We just have to make tough decisions.

How you can help

This is where the community can chip in.

” Coaches, if you’re on the road or don’t see us at a home game because of a conflict, call in. Battle Mountain, Vail Christian and Vail Mountain coaches, call me at 748-2934, and report your results. Eagle Valley, give Ian Cropp a ring at 748-2935. We’ll definitely try to give you a ring, but with both parties trying to do the same,

chances of coverage increase. (Subliminal message ” Bob Bandoni, turn on your cell phone.)

” Parents, you can help this process along by giving your coach a friendly (very friendly) reminder to call in. After games, coaches are understandably wrapped up in the events and calling will slip their mind.

” Parents, if you want to take some notes from road games on who scored, etc., and call in results, we’ll love you for it. If you’re taking digital pictures, we’ll love you even more for it. E-mail them to cfreud@vaildaily.com or icropp@vaildaily.com, and we’ll find a place for them.

” Junior varsity: We wish we could cover JV, but we have a hard enough time keeping up with varsity teams. That having been said, if a parent or coach wishes to do a weekly story on how a JV team is doing or submit a photo, we’ll run it in Thursday’s “Sports around the Town” section. Just e-mail stuff to cfreud@vaildaily.com.

We look forward to a new year and fun, new stories. Go get ’em, Devils, Huskies, Gore Rangers and Saints.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.

Vail, Colorado


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