The 44th season of CHSAA-sanctioned girls' volleyball officially began Monday, Aug. 6.
Not so at Bayfield High School.but for good reason.
"We really have committed an incredible amount of time over the summer," explained head coach Terene Foutz, called back into action after a year's hiatus with 2017 successor Danica Frost preparing for maternity leave. "These kids probably put in 18 hours a week, did four team camps in four weekends - a month- straight, so the kids could really embrace their development, their intensity...to learn how to win games."
"Everyone's learning more and more about how to play the game, positions they may gravitate toward, and we went so hard during the month of July that I actually gave them this past week off!"
Speaking to the Times Sunday morning, Aug. 12, while making ready to prep BHS Gymnasium for the first of a two-week, two-a-day practice grind leading up to the Aug. 28 season-opener, Foutz indicated proudly that all prospective players want to build upon last season and work themselves towards regaining the 3A Intermountain League title.
"Three out of those four weekends of team camps, Bayfield had three teams at all three camps! I'm concentrating on varsity, but the numbers are good; there's a genuine excitement in the program, where we're not taking a van-we're taking a bus, you know?"
"So it just made sense to give them a week off; July was very intense in terms of time commitment."
Opening the season with a tough competitor, Farmington's Piedra Vista arrives for a 6 p.m. barn-burner on Aug. 28.
Foutz is working to build a graduation-wracked roster which reached the 3A-Region II finale and finished 14-11 in 2017.
And even with as much potential talent as there is eligible to return, Foutz wants to develop even more.
"Everything is wide-open.five hours a day for the next two weeks straight to determine how the lineup's going to shape up," she stated. Returning varsity regulars include Mavis Edwards, Tess Phelps and Tymbree Florian, plus reserves Jannika Pope, Rachel Bauer, April Chamblee and Lana McKee. "Everyone's battling for positions right now, and for the first time in quite a while, even incoming seniors are in a position where they're having to lead a team for the first time."
"So although we may technically have upperclassmen, we may have to see who develops and who pushes our team to championship-level volleyball," Foutz said. "Everyone's learning how to do that. In terms of whoever played last year on varsity, there's a complete reset in that returning or not, kids have to earn their positions and their time."
With their summer schedule wrapped up at the early-August Rio Rancho Jamboree in New Mexico, the Wolverines will go through a detailed preseason scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 18, at home against 4A Durango.
"It's not the typical.multi-team scrimmage all day," Foutz said, noting its 10 a.m. start. "What we're doing is 'breaking it down'; there will be some scrimmaging, but there will be a lot of teaching. It won't be straight-up scrimmaging against Durango all day; both coaches agreed that we need to teach a lot of volleyball right now."
"Coach Colleen (DHS' Vogt) and I decided we need to take our time," she continued, "because there's so much development happening right now with new groups of kids, we just wanted to be flexible. So we will have C, JV and varsity teams all playing at Bayfield on.the eighteenth!"
UNPLANNED RETURN: Even with son John still a student-athlete at BHS, Foutz recalled her surprise about when the school called in sudden need of a leader, and her name apparently atop the candidate list.
"That was not expected," she said. "But now that I'm here, I'm getting back to trying to answer the question: What can I do to make Bayfield better? How can we develop these kids to a championship level, starting from the very beginning?"
"Bayfield is in a 're-set' mode, and it's exciting as a coach to partner with kids and see how far we can take it! That's what's driving me as coach, and I hope that's what's driving the players as competitors." Assisting Foutz in '18 will be former BHS setter Suzie Rhodes (also JV head coach) and Destry Heide (C-team), with Tom Jensen, Molly Malarsie, and former BHS standout Caitlyn Phelps aboard as volunteer aides-de-camp.