It will still be at least 10 days until the Bermudian Springs field hockey team can practice on its new multi-purpose field, according to coach Neil Bixler, but the Eagles were out on nearby grass Monday for their first practice of the year.
They spent most of the morning moving station to station to work on drills before competing with each other in live action for the last 15 minutes.
"It was typical," Bixler said of what he saw from the defending YAIAA Division III champions at their first practice. "You get the younger kids who need some help, and the older kids know what they're doing. It was a pretty typical first day."
The Eagles battled heat, even though they took the field in the morning, and Bixler liked what he saw from his returning players. Bermudian Springs will start just three seniors — Mackenzie Farley, Lindsay Brehm and Morgan Williams — but return experienced varsity players at most positions. Olivia Blasone, a freshman starter last season, seemed to be in the middle of every play during the live action.
"She's really improved. She's played a lot of club and went to the Elite 60 camp and did that kind of stuff," Bixler said. "We just did a little bit of live stuff here at the end, but typically the first couple days we're just trying to make a determination on where players need to be: Varsity, JV or somewhere in between. It's usually what we use the first two or three practices for."
DELONE CATHOLIC VOLLEYBALL >> The three-time defending YAIAA girls' volleyball champions have a challenge ahead of them. The Squirettes will have to find a way to replace six seniors and three starters. The majority of the Squirettes arrived half an hour early to the first day of practice, eager to tackle that challenge, much to the delight of head coach Jason Leppo, who said he has more than enough talent at his disposal to negate the losses of the departed seniors. It's just a matter of finding the right combinations, he said.
Just before Leppo sent his team out into the sweltering August heat to run a lap around the block, he spoke about tinkering with the lineup.
"We have a lot of pieces and a lot of things to figure out when it comes to what the best lineup is," Leppo said. "This lineup with this group is going to be much more fluid than it has been in years past, which should make it a lot of fun. There are so many players who can do so many things. Other than Katie (Laughman) as the main setter, where everyone else fits in is really up in the air."
The main piece to the puzzle is who will play the libero position recently held by Kayla Baadte. Kayla Ewart and Lexi Shanabrook are two candidates in the mix, Leppo said, and where junior Karigen Emig lines up will also factor into that decision.
"That's the million-dollar question," Leppo said when asked who his libero will be. "I would be shocked if it's one kid early on. We'll probably try a whole bunch of different things."
DELONE CATHOLIC CROSS COUNTRY >> The Delone Catholic cross country teams followed a long-time team tradition Monday, using the first day of practice to complete a mile trial. Despite abnormally warm temperatures for the first day of fall practice, the returning Squires and Squirrettes impressed coach R.C. Zinn by all completing the hilly Codorus State Park mile in quicker times than last season.
"Every year we start out with a mile trial, just to get a gauge for where they're at," Zinn said. "It's good because it's not too long for the first day and the new runners can adapt a little bit."
Sophomore Charlie Hoerl showed the biggest year-to-year improvement of the group, running a six minute, 13 second mile — a two minute, 26 second improvement from his time last year.
"You always come into the first day cautiously optimistic, so it's a big relief to see them run this well," Zinn said. "You see who really worked hard in the summer."
Hoerl was one of many boys to turn out for the first day of practice for the Squires, who have won YAIAA Division III titles in three of the last four years. Numbers are up for the boys, but that's a luxury the girls' team won't have as its three seniors look to end their careers with a fourth District 3 championship. Despite the success of the program, the Squirettes start the season with just eight runners.
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