Season starts for (non-football) teams around Manistee County

Manistee soccer players go through drills during the first practice of the season on Wednesday. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — Whether they were on a court, in the grass, or treading water, teams across Manistee County had a uniform goal in mind on Wednesday: Hit the ground running.

Monday marked the MHSAA’s official start for football, while Wednesday opened the fall season for sports such as volleyball, boys soccer, girls golf, cross country and girls swimming.

Though Manistee High School was just a cross section of the first practices occurring all around the county, the sentiments of the coaches were all similar.

“Today, you want to get all the basic stuff in and out of the way, see what you have to work with, and start building from there,” said Manistee soccer coach Rudy Guillen as he watched his players go through the first dribbling drill of the year. “You get cobwebs out of the way, get them acclimated with the ball again, and then you’re off and running.

“We’re looking to start the season strong right off the bat too,” he added. “We’ve been known to have a slow start; about the halfway point, we start putting things together; and then we’re fully charged by the end. That’s always nice to see, but we would really like to start like that right away.”

Up the hill from the soccer team’s practice field sat the Paine Aquatic Center, in which the Chippewas filled the pool.

“I thought we might have this many,” said swimming coach Corey Van Fleet of his 30-plus fleet of swimmers. “We have some that aren’t here, but then we have a few that came out today that we didn’t know would. We’re approaching 35 girls; we had 17 last year.

“We’re getting numbers, and the best part of those numbers is that most of them grew since we last saw them.”

Van Fleet said the team met in the morning Wednesday, and stayed dry until the afternoon.

“We didn’t go in the water at first, just to meet with the team and get some things organized.

Manistee swimming coach Corey Van Fleet gives instructions during Wednesday’s afternoon’s practice. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

“This afternoon, though, we’re swimming to get some laps in. We’re getting stretched out quite a bit, and over the next two or three days we’ll gradually improve time and distance.”

In the gymnasium, Manistee’s volleyball team was starting fresh. And instead of a first practice, Chippewas coach Jody Powell is conducting tryouts for the first three days.

“We’re not sure about cuts just yet, but each of the girls will get a good evaluation,” she said of the large group of players that were divided onto two different courts Wednesday. “We divide them up into stations. We’ve got film going, so anything I miss I can look back on.

“Everyone will get a fair shot. We’ll know Friday what the team is, and our first varsity practice will be Saturday.”

Before tryouts, Powell said the players have put in plenty of conditioning work by running on the beach, as well as taking part in stair exercises and yoga.

“We’re keying in on athleticism,” she said. “We need girls who can last, and we’re hoping to turn all these athletes we have into volleyball players.”

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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