High school sports teams in Tracy are off to a slow start their first week of practice.
Kimball High volleyball coach Suzette Mendonca planned to start her team’s first day of practice at 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 12.
At that time players were still wandering into the small gym at Kimball High, some ready to practice, but many others needing to explain why their paperwork, including medical and insurance forms, were not complete.
“It seems like this year was worse than in the past,” Mendonca said, adding that a lot of new freshmen had to sit in the bleachers on the first day because they’re not allowed to practice until all of the paperwork is done.
By 4:30 p.m. they were ready for warm-up drills, but not until Mendonca laid out her expectations for players, with a heavy emphasis on maximum effort in practice.
“I need you to elevate your level,” she told the girls, encouraging them to seek out the experienced players as mentors.
“It’s a huge leap from JV to varsity. We need to work at 110 percent all of the time.”
The first week of practice ends up being a tentative start for many teams. West High soccer coach Nate Perry had 35 players practice on Tuesday, Aug. 13, and 15 more who could not because they didn’t fill out all the forms. This year the California Interscholastic Federation added forms for parental acknowledgement of the CIF’s ban on steroids and the danger of concussions.
“Who’s got the paperwork in shows me who’s disciplined and is going to get stuff done when I ask them to,” Perry said. He will pay even more attention to which players have a strong work ethic.
“The first week is not me coaching much. It’s me setting up drills or small-side games and them showing me what they can do,” he said.
Tuesday’s practice had players competing on a small field, trying to shoot the ball into a waist-high net while only being allowed to touch the ball twice.
“It’s pretty crowded but I do that on purpose to see if they can keep their heads up and make simple passes,” Perry said.
For players the first week of practice is a chance to reacquaint themselves with teammates, and meet players coming up from junior varsity or joining the team for the first time.
Senior center midfielder Victor Silva said he played for a club team over the summer, and it looked like others did too.
“Now that we’re practicing I can see that a lot of these guys have gotten better over the summer,” he said. “We’re going to have a good season this year.”
The West girls tennis team was also out for its first week of practice. Coach Ben Tsukiji said students still have to sort out which sports they will compete in. He’s looking to replace 11 girls who graduated last year.
Experienced players include senior Rosa Borrayo, who missed playing her junior year and was eager to get back on the court.
“It’s tiring, but fun. I missed the team spirit,” Borrayo said. “That’s why I came back.”
Other teams have to figure out how to build their numbers before official contests begin on Aug. 30.
West girls golf coach Gary Moore said plenty of girls showed an interest in the team at freshman orientation, but none of those girls showed up for the first day of practice on Wednesday, Aug. 14, at Old River Golf Course.
Sophomore Bobbi Loggins played last year and will follow up with the girls who said they’d like to play but didn’t make it Wednesday.
“We just tell our friends how much fun golf is and try to talk it up,” Loggins said.
Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.