Teams prepare for upcoming spring sports season

Brandon Kirchner, Sports Editor

With the Spring season right around the corner. Comes the start of Rolla’s spring sport programs. Last season, most of the teams had quite some success, meaning all eyes will be watching how Rolla compares this season. Add that to the new coaches coming in and another year of upcoming talent it will surely be another action packed season.

Former Head Coach of the Track team Don Knapp retired after last season, and coming in to take over the track team is Football Head Coach, Jon Franks. Senior Bryce O’Connor is excited to see his football coach control the track team.

“I feel like it will be a positive experience, just like it was when he took over the football team. Coach Franks is a great coach, and he knows what is best for athletes when it comes to working out and training on an off the field of competition,” O’Connor said.

The baseball team is another squad with a new coach coming in to take the reins. Mr. Ken Hohe moved to Rolla in the past year, coming from Cuba as the head baseball coach and athletic director. Coach Hohe is excited for this year’s squad and the youth of the team.

“Rolla High School baseball graduated ten seniors, seven starters, and seven players are continuing their careers at the collegiate level. While it will be a daunting task to replace all of those guys, from what I have seen this past fall and over the winter, guys are putting in the time and the work to be prepared come March. We may be a young team in terms of age, but many of our players have been involved with baseball for a decade plus and are excited for the upcoming season. I believe there is a great amount of talent on the roster, and while we definitely will have our work cut out for us, we expect to show up every day and improve. As a coaching staff we are excited for the group we have this year,” Hohe said.

As the coach of a high school sports team, a big part of building a program is constantly replacing talent with upcoming lower classmen. Head Coach of the soccer team, Coach Mike Howard, is looking forward to see how this year’s upperclassmen take over the team.

“We lost some very good players, but that happens every year. It’s an opportunity for someone to step up and play a larger role. I think we will have some very good leaders this year and that it will be a very fun group to spend time with. Big spot to fill will be in goal, and we will see how that all plays out,” Coach Howard said.

Senior Elsa Wise is one of the leaders on the soccer team looking forward to help teach the younger players this season.

“Being a captain this year is going to be a huge responsibility. Our team has such great chemistry on and off the field; however, stepping up and always being the strong minded and positive one is going to be an amazing opportunity. I plan to lead these girls as far as I can and would do anything for them,” Wise said.

In the past few years they have had quite some success with many winning seasons and good competition at districts. Long time Coach, Joe Schisler, is excited for the younger guys to step up to carry the success from the past few seasons.

“We lose our second, third, fourth and eigth players from last year, so there is a gap to fill. But as a team we work very hard at developing players so they are ready to step into varsity roles and find daily success. I think we have the experience, athleticism, and leadership necessary to win. I think we lettered nine or ten players last year with a difficult schedule, winning record, and district semi-final finish. It will be up to the individual players to show the maturity to continue the tradition. I also think some players who didn’t letter could step in and help a great deal,” Schisler said.

Leading up to the start of a new season, athletes start preparing their bodies by doing many different activities, such as offseason training and in general staying in shape. Senior Blayne Yarger has spent this offseason preparing for a great season of Rolla Baseball.

“My mentality for this season is to go into it giving everything I have left for the program. I want to leave a mark in the baseball program and possibly break some records while doing it. My expectations for the program are no less than last year’s district championship,” Yarger said.

When someone spends years on a team, they start to grow a bond with their teammates and it becomes a family instead of just a team. Senior Jacob Lenox is excited to play his last season with his tennis teammates.

“This will be my fourth year playing tennis for Rolla, and I couldn’t be more excited to go out and play with a team I can gladly call my friends, but it’s bittersweet knowing it’s my last season with them. Our team has steadily gotten better every year I’ve played an I am excited to see what we can do this year and just how far we’ll take it,” Lenox said.

Besides the tennis squad, another team that doesn’t get a lot of attention is the golf team. Coach Zack Nixon has been the head coach of the golf team for the past few seasons, and is looking forward to use his experience as coach this season.

“A good training habit I picked up is better knowing how to help my athletes with the mental side of the game. The most significant portion is how to combat poor thinking strategies, and then understanding that the mental aspect of the game is a skill like any other that can be improved. When I was a new coach, I didn’t address the mental game enough or understand it well enough to coach my golfers past their problems,” Coach Nixon said.