Homecoming a different experience for MCHS athletes

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The lights.

The competition.

The pressure.

Homecoming week can be a different experience altogether for student athletes.

Special homecoming activities, including a student dance and a bonfire, can appeal to them as much as to their peers.

But, unlike other students, athletes also have a game to win.

Coaches have more to think about that week, too.

"We always want to win homecoming and put on a good show for the fans," said Kip Hafey, Moffat County High School head football coach.

Game results don't always remain on the field, even after the fans leave the stands. They can affect other homecoming events, including the annual dance.

"The dance is always a little bit sweeter if you win your homecoming game," Hafey said.

Still, while homecoming games create pressure on students to perform well, they may also allow students to test their mettle.

"But, that's what we want," Hafey said. "We want our kids to face pressure and overcome it and step up to the challenge."

The homecoming football game gives them a chance to do just that.

Staying focused during homecoming week, though, can pose a challenge.

"We always say, if we can get one good practice during homecoming week, that's a good homecoming week," Hafey said. "The coaches joke about it."

Athletes' concerns during the week can range from getting the class float ready for the parade to what to wear for dress-up days to who to invite to the dance.

It's enough to rip a player's attention away from the field.

"Kids are thinking about so many other things than the game," Hafey said. "It's difficult.

So, we do our best to keep focused week of practice and, hopefully, have them ready to go come Friday night."

Other sports teams experience the same issue.

The MCHS varsity girls volleyball team had a game scheduled Tuesday and is slated to play a quad game against Steamboat, Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley on Saturday.

Instead of trying to resist the pressure, head coach Brianna Montgomery said she tries to adapt her players to it.

"We just spend a lot of time in practice doing pressure drills," she said, "drills that require high amount of intensity : so when it comes to that time, that feeling is fairly normal."

She also tries to keep her team centered on the game in front of them.

"When (it) comes to practice time, it's time to practice," she said.

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