Fall sports teams get back on the field
Teams return for first day of fall sports tryouts
There were no signs of yellow school buses and the parking lots were virtual devoid of cars and pedestrians, but Wednesday marked the unofficial end of summer for numerous Charles County high school students looking to play various sports for their respective schools this fall.
The La Plata High School boys soccer team, which reached the Class 2A state title game last November, started bright and early on Wednesday morning. Head coach Chris Butler and his squad were on the practice field adjacent to the school at 8 o’clock running laps and then continued with practice up through 11 that morning amid considerable optimism.
“We had a great first day,” Butler said of his team’s sunrise practice. “The coaches and the guys were all very upbeat. I think last year was just a great experience for them. We only lost four seniors, two of which were key, but we have a lot of guys back. The new kids really helped increase the intensity this morning and the coaches and all the guys were really upbeat.”
Typically the McDonough High School volleyball team begins the first practice inside its own gymnasium, but on Wednesday the squad carpooled to North Point to audition for the varsity and junior varsity teams in the Eagles’ spacious, air conditioned gym. The Rams will be practicing at North Point through Aug. 19 as the McDonough gym undergoes minor upgrades.
“This year is going to be a lot about teaching,” said McDonough third-year coach Buck Hadden, who guided the Rams to the Class 1A state title match last fall. “We graduated some very good players. We have a lot of new faces on the team this season. We didn’t have a couple of our seniors here today, so it was good for the other kids to learn some different positions.”
McDonough senior Teya Regala is optimistic that the Rams can make another run through the 1A North Region bracket and earn another berth
to states at the University of Maryland’s Ritchie Coliseum in College Park. Regala stayed in shape throughout the summer by working out in her basement gymnasium.
“I was really happy to see all the girls today,” said Regala, who plans to attend the University of North Carolina next fall. “It’s always fun to be back for the first day. I worked out in my gymnasium all summer and I would go running. We have some high goals. We want to get back to states again this year.”
Junior Celeste Driver, whose older sister Sabrina Driver was part of the Rams’ success last fall before graduating in the spring, will likely be the team’s libero this fall. In Wednesday’s practice she also acted as setter and occasionally flashed plenty of power attacking the ball at the net despite her diminutive frame.
“We want to win the region and get back to states again this year,” said Driver, who dreams of someday playing volleyball for Penn State University. “I think we can do just as good as we did last year. This first day back was a lot of fun. It was great to see all the girls again.”
Senior outside hitter Lauryn Davis, who boasts a 4.5 GPA and plans to attend Duke University next fall and major in pre-med, is also optimistic about the upcoming season despite the Rams losing several key players to graduation last spring.
“It was a really good first day back,” Davis said. “Personally, my goals are to get better at passing and hitting. But for the team I think our goals are just as high as last year. We want to get back to states.”
Senior Stephanie Adams, who missed last season for personal reasons, admits she was eager to be back on the floor for the Rams. Adams, who also plays softball for the Southern Maryland Velocity 18-and-Under team and also excels in the 100yard freestyle and 100 butterfly during the winter, was also eager to rejoin her team after the brief hiatus.
“It was great to be back with the girls,” Adams said. “Softball is my main sport, but I always enjoyed playing volleyball. I like playing in the back row, passing and digging. We have some high goals for the season that I think we can reach.”
While the McDonough volleyball team borrowed the North Point gymnasium on Wednesday, the North Point football team gathered under the lights on the practice field for its initial practice. Last fall the Eagles went 10-1, the lone loss eliminating them in the opening round of the 4A East Region playoffs, but third-year coach Tom Petre is optimistic this year’s squad can make amends.
“These guys have been hitting the weights since December,” Petre said. “They understand what it takes to be competitive. I have a great coaching staff and it all starts there really. I would be lost without them. We graduated some key players from last season, but we have 21 seniors and 32 juniors on the roster.”
North Point, which opens the season at Thomas Stone on Sept. 2 before hosting Lackey one week later, will have several key players back, including Malik Lawrence, Malachi McMillan, Jemichael Jones and Jermel Ratcliff. The Eagles have preseason scrimmages with Prince George’s County’s Wise, the defending 4A state champions, Meade of Anne Arundel County and Friendly of Prince George’s.
“The first day back was really good,” Petre said. “We got a lot accomplished. This whole first week is about getting the dust off and getting ready for the season. It comes up quick.”
Members of the North Point High School football team take the practice field for the first time on Wednesday evening as the Eagles girls soccer team occupies the far side of the field.
STAFF PHOTO BY TED BLACK Members of the McDonough High School volleyball team prepare to participate in several practice drills at North Point High School in Waldorf on Wednesday. The Rams reached last year’s 1A state title match and will be spending their first two weeks of practice on the road at North Point.