By Kevin Wilson
It was a day of conditioning for plenty of Portales High athletes, with Monday as the first day for non-football sports.
Things started bright and early for the volleyball squad.
“We started out this morning at 6:30 at the hills at Eastern (New Mexico University),” volleyball coach Ruth Chavez said, “and then went to the gym from 3 to 5. Those kids will sleep well tonight.”
Chavez said there were 38 players who came out for volleyball, which was about what Chavez expected.
“We’re in the gym all summer,” said Chavez, who is entering her 14th season as head coach. “The kids who were there were the kids who came today.”
They’ll have plenty of spots to go for, with Portales graduating eight seniors off last season’s 17-6 Class 3A state quarterfinalist.
“We lost a big senior class, but we’re coming back pretty strong,” said Chavez, who has led Portales to five state titles and four runnerup finishes. “We’ve got three pretty experienced seniors and a pretty good junior class.”
Portales, which opens the season against Hobbs, moves up to Class 4A as part of the state’s realignment. The Rams will be in District 4-3A with Ruidoso and East Mountain. Former district rival Lovington moved up to 5A and will not face Portales this season.
Portales girls soccer coach Sara Vasquez said Monday’s turnout was a pleasant surprise.
“We have about 40 trying out, which is amazing and means the community is doing a great job promoting soccer.” Vasquez said. “We did have quite a few during the summer program, (but) I did not expect these numbers at all.”
Vasquez said last season, there were 29 who tried out. The plan is to have about 35 spots available for kids in the program — 15 on the varsity, 15 on the junior varsity and five who will float between the two teams.
The team opens the season Aug. 22 in Roswell as part of a two-day tournament.
Rams soccer coach Nathan Dodge said about 32 came out for Monday activities, with more expected before tryouts start Thursday.
“This summer, we had a pretty good turnout of about 40,” Dodge said, “so we may need to cut about eight. I do think 40 will end up trying out.”
Dodge figures about 32 spots will be open, with 17 varsity and 15 junior varsity. He is excited for the season, with 10 seniors among the candidates.
Dodge said the next few days leading up to the tryouts will cover basic skills and have an emphasis on conditioning.
“Our first match is against Clovis in 15 days,” Dodge said. “We’ve got a little over two weeks to get ready for an 80-minute soccer game.”