Hopes are high. Unfortunately, so is the snow
by Than Acuff
In just their third year of existence last year, the Crested Butte high school girls soccer team took the state by storm, making it all the way to the semifinals of the 2A state tournament before falling to Front Range powerhouse Dawson.
Remarkably, that was a team led by predominately underclassmen and the team lost just one player to graduation. In addition, they picked up two more players to bring some additional firepower—one from the Front Range and one from Germany, as well as another goaltender, opening up a host of options for head coach Julia Kidd with her varsity squad.
“We have our entire varsity roster all returning plus some quality additions,” says Kidd. “Last year we surprised ourselves and this year we have a better idea of what we are capable of and what to expect.”
Suffice to say, they are set up for continued success this year with Mother Nature about the only thing standing in their way. With snow piled high in Crested Butte as well as in Gunnison, field space is non-existent in the Gunnison Valley for now and in the near future.
“Our practice times and locations are the only thing really impeding us,” says Kidd. “We can only do what we can do.”
Kidd also has the double-edged sword of an extremely large total roster of players. Forty girls signed up and are showing up on a regular basis to workouts. Kidd has called on former Western Colorado University player Jamie Keith to help coach, as well as Adrienne Weil and Elyza Montano.
“They’re all focused and want to be here and the numbers help dictate energy and commitment,” says Kidd. “It’s now a competitive program.”
But, as mentioned before, with just gym space available, gym space that is shared with the high school track program, Kidd had to make some decisions early on in the season as she split the team into varsity and JV squads after one week of practice and has them practicing together and separately, sometimes after school and sometimes bright and early before school.
“I had to divide them up,” explains Kidd. “There’s just not enough room in the gym for that many players. Splitting them up has helped with increased and quicker player development.”
Kidd did manage to get the team out on grass in Salida after the first week of practice. While the plan was to scrimmage Vail, the weather dashed that but they still headed over Monarch Pass for some much-needed field time.
“We got to play on grass for three hours,” says Kidd. “It was good to see them play with a lot more space.”
The team returned to Crested Butte for continued indoor workouts and then hit the road this past weekend for a pre-season scrimmage against Montrose. The girls came away with a 2-0 win in the scrimmage and will open regular season play this week as they face Cortez and Ignacio on the road, obviously, Friday and Saturday, March 15-16. Their first home game in Gunnison is scheduled for Saturday, March 23 against Telluride.
Kidd expects a challenging schedule and the team has their sights set on another post-season run this year, maybe all the way to the title.
“Four teams from our league made it to state last year so that says a lot about our league and Western Slope soccer,” says Kidd. “We recognize a state final is the ultimate goal but I don’t want that to be it. We have a lot of little goals to reach before that.”