Welcome to this year’s edition of high school sports
Welcome back, everyone.
It’s the first day of school for Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley. Vail Mountain starts Thursday after its annual retreat and Vail Christian has been in session already.
With that, the Vail Daily’s spate of fall previews is under way, and this makes it a good time to give our old readers and new alike an idea how we try to cover high school sports.
With apologies to Bill Maher, here are our pseudo-“New Rules:”
We live in Eagle County
This is stating the obvious, but the events that drive our ecomony take precedent over high school sports. We would not have two public schools and two privates with athletic programs here if it were not for the winter and summer events that occur on the mountains.
This means that snow sports and other events like this weekend’s King of the Mountain biking race take precedence in our coverage over high school sports. Winter high school sports often get short shrift because of this because of the calendar. The first two weekends of basketball, wrestling, hockey and skiing also happen to be the Birds of Prey men’s races in Beaver Creek and the Winternational women’s races in Aspen, the two World Cup skiing tour stops in the United States.
Ian Cropp, our intrepid outdoors reporter who is also the face of Eagle Valley preps coverage, and I live in the press corral at these sites for those two weeks. We wish we had a sports staff of a major metro paper to cover these big events and pick up all things Devils, Gore Rangers, Huskies and Saints.
We do our best, but we’re not The New York Times when it comes to a staff.
At the beginning of every high school season, we take all the schedules of every varsity team in the county, and compile a daily master schedule. Once compiled, we see that Murphy’s Law always is in play.
This is my 11th year covering high school sports here, and you can bet your house, your car and your retirement fund that there will be days where multiple teams will be home, playing at the same time. While I’d like to think that Rich Houghton, Cliff Zehring, Jame Farhquar and Mike King, the athletic directors at Battle Mountain Eagle Valley, VMS and Vail Christian, conspire to make this so, it’s just the way it is.
Here are some of the factors we consider in making the difficult decisions on what to cover with our limited staff:
– Local rivalries trump all. Battle Mountain-Eagle Valley or Vail Christian versus VMS, or any combination of the four get the nod because these matchups have the most interest locally.
– In the fall, Homecoming weeks are highlighted. The Devils and Saints have priority on the week of Sept. 25, the Gore Rangers, starting Oct. 9 and the Huskies Oct. 16. And each school will get the same treatment for its week regardless of size.
– The impact of the game is key. A conference game is bigger than a nonconference one. As the teams progress through the season, we will alter our coverage to accomodate trends. If on one day, there were a conflict between Huskies soccer hosting Steamboat Springs and Eagle Valley volleyball hosting Rifle, soccer would be the one. Battle Mountain and Steamboat battle for the league title year-in and year-out in soccer, while the Devils spikers should handle the Bears, who have not won a match in several years.
It’s not that we “like” Battle Mountain better, but Huskies-Sailors soccer is going to be a better game with more impact on the outcome of the season than Devils-Bears volleyball. These are not decisions we like to make, but we have to.
With the exception of local rivalries, which are technically road games for one team, it’s rare that Ian or I go to away contests during the regular season. Come the postseason, it’s a different story.
It is simply more practical to stay in Eagle County, cover as many home games as we can and get road events by phone. This is where coaches can help.
With Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley, we are fortunate to be part of Colorado Mountain News Media, which has papers where the Huskies and Devils often play on the road. CMNM owns the Vail Daily, the Summit Daily (Summit), the Glenwood Post Independent (Glenwood and Rifle, Roaring Fork), the Aspen Times (Aspen, Basalt) and the Grand Junction Free Press (Palisade) Additionally, we have an informal agreement with the Craig Daily Press and the Steamboat Pilot to catch our local teams when they head to Moffat County and Steamboat.
But these papers have the same conflicts we do, so they can’t always get every game. The best way to make sure your team gets in the paper regularly is to call in from the road. I’m at 748-2934. Ian’s at 748-2935. Coaches, let your fingers do the walking. Calling in is even more important for coaches at VMS and Vail Christian, whose opponents are often outside our sister papers’ reach.
And although it is not a fun part of a coach’s job, we need you to call in win or lose. Though we are a tabloid, we’re not The New York Post. We’re not into ripping teams for losing. In fact, by calling in, coaches can point out some of the positives not seen in a box score, making that loss a more positive experience for everyone involved.
Myths and how you can help
– I will say this again. Despite covering Battle Mountain for 10 years now, I am not on the Huskies’ payroll. And though Ian was carried through the Eagle Valley locker room in triumph because he wrote the column predicting the Devils would beat the Huskies in football last fall, he shares my opinion on one thing ” we both want every team in this county to win.
Winning teams make for happy readers and happy reporters. I’m not kidding. There were readers a few years ago who thought I was a terrible volleyball writer at Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley. By the end of last year ” and a state championship ” I was the best thing to happen to Battle Mountain volleyball since the net was created. I’d like to think my writing’s improved, but …
– VMS and Vail Christian are small schools by CHSAA classification, but not with regard to coverage. These athletes are working just as hard in East Vail and Edwards as their counterparts at Battle Mountain, and the passion among fans is equally intense come games.
– As far as JV teams go, we’d love to have the staff to cover them, but there’s only two of us. If parents or coaches associated with these teams would like to send us digital pictures and/or write-ups of how a team is doing, we will gladly publish that information every Thursday on our “Sports Around the Town” page. Just e-mail me at email@example.com. Also, we call upon any parents who are shutterbugs. If you have pictures from games, we’d love them.
So Happy New Year, everyone. Let’s have a great 2007-08.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.