Amidst a whitewashed, snowy landscape, the lush green of Summit High's turf field stood out in Wednesday's warm temperatures and under the day's sunny skies as the girls' lacrosse team was stretching, dancing around on one foot while trying to pull on warm-ups and chattering as teammates filtered in for the 3:15 p.m. start to practice.
The team has been training for just a week, and in that week, head coach Kristin Elliott and assistant coach Russ Halpern have been cramming in as many fundamentals as possible.
"We have to rush everything into seven days," Halpern said.
That's because the season kicks off today with a road game at Dakota Ridge. The team then plays at home Saturday, weather permitting, against Palmer Ridge.
"We've only had six practices and we have a game tomorrow. We are pushing the girls and hoping they remember what they learned last year and bring it back," Elliott said, adding that today's game will reveal training gaps that need remedying before league play begins in late March.
Last season, the team finished with a 4-10 record. This season, the coaches hope to flip those numbers around.
"I think we can do a lot better. I know we can. We have the talent," Elliott said.
The keys, according to the coaches, are camaraderie, team unity, commitment to taking on the entire season and a positive attitude.
"We're seeing that so far this year," Halpern said, adding that another key is to have support from the community.
"We encourage folks to come out for our home games, because it really helps the team the more people we have in the stands," he said.
Team leader and junior Kaitlin "Kates" Raymond has her coaches' goals on her radar, too.
"We want to be more team oriented," she said. "In practice, it's been working pretty well.
Team unity is one thing, but it's also about the players' skills, Raymond added.
"We've been working on a bunch of fundamentals and playing a lot of seveb vs. seven to get used to everything. We've been working a lot on our weak side, too, so we can use that in games," she said.
Raymond is a leader on a young team. There's just one senior out for girls' lacrosse this year, and last year's goalie, who is a senior this year, opted not to return. Meanwhile, about a dozen seniors graduated last year. A new player, a goalie, transferred this year from Mullen High School, which is encouraging to the coaches because "we were a little scared," Elliott said.
Despite the youth, the team's talent is encouraging both to coaches and to Raymond.
"This year, there's a lot of talent compared to last year. Even the incoming freshman have a lot of talent. It's really exciting," Raymond said, explaining that the talent runs the gamut from speed to agility to ball handling.
Given the competition, Elliott has her eyes on Aspen and Grand Junction.
"(Aspen) is a good team. We showed up to play (last year). This year, it will be another good one to watch," the coach said, adding that last year, the game was decided by a single point.
The game against Aspen is at home on April 30 while the Grand Junction contest will be on the road.