Given the Colorado High School Activities Association’s mid-morning sledgehammer of a decision Tuesday, one could reasonably assume that when athletic directors and coaches broke the fatal news to their respective teams, conversations and interactions that day and the next would have left all feeling despondent.
Not so much at Bayfield, it seems.
And particularly so in the girls soccer camp where – sing along if you know the famous Lynyrd Skynyrd chorus – Tuesday’s gone with the wind. Because Wednesday afternoon, the buildup for a 2021 season resumed with renewed energy, as new head coach Chris Zoltowski and his staff again utilized communications technology to help lift spirits wrecked by CHSAA’s cancellation of spring 2020 sports because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Ultimately, the best feeling for me is seeing our family – our soccer family – grow and become more united,” said Zoltowski, still beyond eager to officially stand on the sideline and take over for longtime program figurehead Jen Moore (nee Zelinski), and just as down as the Wolverines were upon learning their schedule had been scrubbed.
“Since the beginning of the quarantine, we’ve been doing Zoom training sessions three days a week,” he said, referencing the video/audio-conferencing app skyrocketing in popularity and usage stay stay-at-home necessity. “And personally, I’m most impressed with the number of athletes that actually show up to every session.”
Wishing his Wolverine boys participation would increase, Zoltowski, the boys head coach since 2016, noted that as many as 18 girls typically join in each time for the unique experience.
Zoltowski said coach Zac Keeler will lead skills instruction while Zoltowski is able to watch the players on film and break down what they are doing. Coach Taylor Arnold conducts strength training with a crossfit flavor, and athletic trainer Brandi Wenzlau has tuned in to provide health updates regarding COVID-19.
The, it’s Zoltwoski’s turn.
“Some days we talk about tactics, formations and positioning, and some days we just kind of get to know each other better,” Zoltowski said. “And I don’t intend to stop until this quarantine is over. It’s so good to give them structure; it gives them hope, and it lets them know there are still people out there that will invest their time into them and won’t just drop off.
“And it’s good for me to see their faces and to talk to them, you know?”
Still, Zoltowski and his assistants know words won’t give Bayfield’s seniors one last match, which the skipper rues.
“It’s been hard on all of us, but my heart really goes out to the seniors. All the young ladies on the team, but especially the seniors,” he said, alluding to Ariana Grimwood, Malaree Matlock, Tayler Ludwig, Kaelynn Martinez and Kaeley Walters. “They’d put in a lot of hard work before the season started, and I know they would have been physically and mentally prepared to compete, before all this.”
Returning talent from Moore’s 2019 varsity (which finished 7-8 overall, 4-2 versus the 3A/2A Southwestern League’s 3A members) would have also included versatile juniors Halle Loveday and Cayanne Carlson, plus classmates Gianna Gallegos and Madison Wells. Having already shown promise for the future, sophomores Maddy Oltmanns, Mattie Moore, Emaliah Sawyer and Jamaica Garza were also all back in the fold, with the latter either a field player or part of a possible goalkeeping trio to likely include junior Jaden Cooper and junior Ignacio transfer Rylee Pearson.
But with such a nucleus able to return next year, Zoltowski expects the crew to be all the more cohesive once players are again permitted to take the pitch. That likely being the paramount goal, credit an assist to Silicon Valley.
“Their commitment’s been amazing, and it’s inspiring for me in this isolation right now. I mean, I’m really happy to be a part of their program. Before all this, my wife and I really got to know a lot of them and their families. This team has a winning tradition, and I’m just hoping I can continue that legacy.”