STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — For the first time since November 2019, Gardner Field at Steamboat Springs High School is seeing some action.
The Sailors football and soccer teams will take the field in Season C, which consists of typically fall sports that were bumped back to spring. The classic spring sports will take place in Season D, which begins in May.
The Steamboat football team hosts Montezuma-Cortez on Saturday, and the first boys soccer home game will be Thursday, March 25, against Glenwood Springs.
In a shortened season that could be cut short by quarantines, the soccer team has 10 games scheduled over three weeks.
“It’s going to be a really quick season and a lot of packed games, so we’re just ready to be sore all the time,” said junior striker Silas Leeson. “Eating good food and getting a lot of rest is really important this season.”
The team will be challenged between staying on top of school, soccer and trying to avoid exposure to a positive case of COVID-19. Leeson and sophomore Reece John said hearing the high school might go back to full-time, in-person learning made them nervous, because the odds of them encountering a positive case goes up.
“Two weeks out of the season is a lot,” said sophomore Reece John. “If we do get quarantined, it sucks and impacts all of us.”
Head coach Rob Bohlman said this season won’t be about the numbers on the scoreboard or the team’s record but will focus on ensuring his players can be the best version of themselves.
“As far as this program, it’s been 16 months — that’s a long separation,” Bohlman said of the absence of Steamboat soccer. “It’s like you’re starting again from ground zero. We’ve taken this one day at a time.”
The Sailors soccer team is led by senior center back and West Virginia Wesleyan commit Devon John, who Bohlman describes as an innate leader who sets the standard for the team.
“I want to leave a legacy here,” John said. “To be one of the best teams to come out of this and make sure our future teams do well. With a little more work and effort, I think we could become one of the better teams.”
The football team is hoping to put up a winning season, the first one since 2009. They’ll attempt to do so under new head coach Mike Appel.
Appel has never been head coach but has assisted with the team for 25 years and even played for the Sailors years ago.
“I want to make sure these kids succeed and become good, young men by the time it’s all said and done,” Appel said. “Teamwork, be part of a team, be a part of that motor that runs with all parts working at the same time, working together. I want these kids to have a lot of integrity.”
Leading the team to achieve those marks are 13 seniors, including Finn Russell. At running back, Russell is a work horse on offense, but it’ll take the whole team working together to win more games this season.
“Now is our year, as seniors, we are the starting team now,” Russell said. “It’s going to be our chance to prove we have what it takes to bring Steamboat football through.”
While they’re sure to encounter many cold days between now and the end of the season, the Sailors have been lucky to practice in sunny weather lately. The season opener is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday with temperatures predicted to rise to 50 degrees or warmer.
“I’m just glad we get to play,” said senior wide receiver and cornerback Jameson Tracy. “It’s kind of funny. Usually it’s hot and then getting cold. Now it’s cold, and we get to look forward to nice, warm weather.”
Between soccer and football, there will be eight home games played at Gardner Field at which 175 fans can attend. However, junior varsity players watching the varsity game and cheerleaders will be counted in that tally. Still, many parents or family members should be able to attend.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.