David Pressgrove: Selfish for success

David Pressgrove

In my job, I’m usually the one asking the questions. But there are times people ask me questions, and the most frequent one is: “What’s your favorite sport to cover?”

I never respond with a specific sport but explain that I enjoy any sport that provides an interesting story.

Almost always, a successful team makes for an interesting story.

In my four years in Craig, some of my favorite teams to cover were the 2003 state champions in wrestling, last year’s quarter-final football team, the girls second-place cross-country teams of ’02 and ’04 and last year’s top-10 boys swim team.

I like to see Bulldog teams succeed mostly because I know the athletes and wish them the best. With that said, a part of me wants teams to win out of selfishness.

It’s always easier to interview someone after a win.

This fall, Moffat County sports weren’t as fun to cover. I think part of it was because it was the least successful fall for Moffat County sports in the four years I’ve been here.

It was tough personally because I’ve befriended quite a few of the seniors this year because I’ve been here since they were freshmen.

My personal side hurt with the guys after the losses in football, with the volleyball girls after the second Steamboat loss, with the golf team when its best golfer was expelled and with the cross-country teams when early injuries set them back.

My professional side took a hit because I would have rather written stories about an overtime win against Steamboat in football, the first volleyball win against the Sailors since the late 1980s, the golf team surprising everybody at the regional and the cross-country teams sweeping the Western Slope League.

In my opinion, soccer was the only team to perform to its expectations this fall. When I watched practice early in the season, the young and inexperienced team looked nothing like a playoff-caliber group.

Then after starting the season 0-3, the team bounced back to make the playoffs. Sure the loss to Steamboat (the Sailors sure ruined a lot this fall) hurt, but the Bulldogs made up for it with their final game of the season.

My favorite game to cover this fall, albeit a losing effort, was the soccer team’s 3-1 loss to Broomfield. The Bulldogs performed beyond expectations against the Eagles, who are now in the state semifinals.

Unfortunately, only a small group of parents had a chance to see the best performance of any Moffat County team this fall.

One inch kept the football team from success this season. If the Steamboat Springs defense hadn’t stopped quarterback Derek Duran on the goal line, the Bulldogs would be preparing for a playoff football game next week.

After the Steamboat game, the Bulldogs struggled to play well again. From my view on the sideline, most of the team turned into a set of individuals down the final stretch.

At times, the players on the sideline were more interested in mingling among themselves than watching the game. When I went to practice, players would complain about lack of playing time and the coaches. It just seemed this group never came together.

The volleyball program was one big hitter away from reaching its goal of the top three in the league. When the team was at its best, it was exciting to watch. Opponents couldn’t do anything offensively against the Bulldogs during those stretches.

But the lack of a consistent power hitter kept the team from breaking out of its slumps. Those slumps cost them in every loss this year.

My final observation for the fall is: Where are the juniors?

It seemed like every varsity team, except boys cross country, was made up of mostly seniors and underclassmen. In fact, there were more sophomores starting, 10, in all five sports than juniors, eight. Unless there are new members, the soccer team will have no seniors next fall.

And now for the good news — there are two more seasons.

All four winter teams have the potential to do well. The boys basketball team is full of experience, the girls team has more depth than Ladore Canyon, wrestling is stacked in the lower weights and the girls swim team has a talented core returning from last year.

That’s one great thing about high school sports. Two-thirds of the time there’s a new season starting up a few weeks later.

I don’t like being critical of high school athletes because they already have enough pressure from home, themselves and their peers. I’ll move on as soon as the first basket is made and the first pin is signaled.

I’m sure the athletes will too.

And although I’m sure they’re never motivated to do well so that I can be happy, Moffat County teams rarely fail to do so.

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