The East Grand Middle School (EMGS) Cubs volleyball team ended their 2016 season last weekend with a tournament in Granby against Hayden, Soroco and West Grand hosted by the East Grand School District.
Last weekend’s matches marked the end of a highly successful season for each of the various lady Cub’s teams with the A-Team, B-Team and C-Team each tallying winning seasons ending with records of 12-2. The young girls are lead this year by Head Coach Beth Romero.
This year Romero is helping to guide 35 young ladies who are learning some of the finer points of competitive volleyball, including a group of 20 eighth-graders and a group of 15 seventh-graders. Romero pointed out that EGMS does not have any sixth grade girls competing on the official middle school squad because the Granby and Fraser Recreation Departments offer a volleyball program for students in sixth-grade.
Assistant Coach Vivian Pankow as well as numerous high school students are aiding Romero this year in her coaching duties. “I want to give a huge shout out to some high school students,” Romero said. “I had a ton of help from seniors and from my daughter, who is a sophomore. They came in every single day and worked with the girls.”
Practices for the young ladies started over a month ago and kicked off the week before the official start of classes at EGMS. The lady Cubs also had their first matches of the season before the start of school when they faced off against West Grand for the first time this year the weekend before school began.
The young ladies of the court did not have any boys participating with them on the team this year but three of the youngsters participated in other sports with one girl also playing on the EGMS football team, one competing with the soccer team and one that ran with the middle school cross country squad.
The tournament last weekend in Granby marked the fourteenth matches of the season for the lady Cubs. The East Grand Middle School A-Team lost to Hayden during the tournament but defeated Soroco. The girls did not compete against West Grand last weekend but had previously beaten the girls from Kremmling on three prior encounters.
The C-Team lost to Soroco during the tournament and took second place overall while the East Grand B-Team, made up of a mix of seventh and eighth-graders, defeated every opponent they faced.
In her role as mentor to the young athletes Coach Romero prefers to focus on developing the fine motor skills the girls will need for success later in their high school careers.
“Really our philosophy is to get them to the next level,” Coach Romero said. “Most of them have played in the rec league, which is a good place to start. It teaches them how to hit and get the ball over the net. We are focusing on serving correctly with one hand, teaching them how to set up and send the ball back over the net. We are working a lot on position and developing our hitters and setters. Basically we are getting them ready for high school, where they will be playing at a much higher level.”
The skills the young ladies will need to compete in high school are a core area of focus for Romero who explained she is basically trying to get the girls to the point they can control their hitting effectively enough to be able to send the ball where they want after each hit. “It doesn’t sound like they are doing a lot, but it is a lot to achieve, it is a refined skill,” Romero said. “We take what they have learned at lower levels and refine it so the ball goes where they want it to go each time.”
While young athletes face many challenges in their competitive pursuits Coach Romero said the rapidly growing and changing nature of young bodies can sometimes make it difficult for the girls to perform. “I think for middle schoolers it (the biggest challenge) is just that they are changing and growing so much,” Romero said. “Their bodies are changing. What they can do one year and what they can do the next year is just night and day. Their maturity level is growing every day also so by the time they leave in eighth-grade we are sending them off with some maturity.”
Coach Romero was pleased with the performance of the lady Cubs this season and the growth she has seen in some of her youngster players. “They improved so much this year,” Romero said. “I was so proud of all of them. They showed they could not just hit the ball, but could make it into a game and make it go where they wanted it to go.”
Romero attributes much of the growth in her players to the positive attitudes they displayed throughout the season, which Romero considered her team’s biggest strength. “I think they all came in with great attitudes,” Romero said. “The eighth-graders especially. They came out of last year really strong and were able to build on that. I think they will go to high school and do incredible things. They are working as a team and moving in the right direction.”
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