From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 106, Number 20 - May 15, 2009
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Younger athletes boost Pinedale sports

by Jonathan Van Dyke

When Larry Proud took stock of his Pinedale track and field team several weeks ago, he couldn’t help but be pleased with its performance.

With only four seniors, the Wranglers still managed to place in the upper half at the Thermopolis Invite.

“We’re a younger team than we were last year, and any time we place in the top eight we’re doing good,” Proud said.

Placing in the top eight has been a regular occurrence for the young squad. In fact, without the 12-plus freshmen populating its roster, Pinedale High School might barely have a team.

“We’re giving our kids a lot of opportunities — as far as we can stretch,” said Jeff Makelky, athletic director. “We’re getting more athletes.”

Whether it be new opportunities or the ever-increasing enrollment numbers, this spring’s three teams — track, girls’ soccer, boys’ soccer — are heavy on the youngsters.

“Two-thirds of the team is the sophomore/freshmen group, so that will be nice to build on,” said Jennifer Adam, girls’ soccer coach. “We definitely would not have had enough for varsity and JV, and that would have hurt us considerably.”

This year was the first that varsity soccer was offered in Pinedale, and while that might stretch the small school’s student resources, it’s been the younger classes that have had a shot to shine.

“The big thing for me is to get kids to participate and find a niche in one or more activities,” Makelky said.

Girls’ sports in Pinedale have especially benefited from the enthusiasm of the current sophomores and freshmen. That trend should continue with the incoming eighth-graders.

“I know the girls’ athletics, they have a couple of really strong groups,” said Mike Gregory, football coach. “It looks really good and really promising.”

Already, the girls’ alpine ski team took state this year — with just one senior. Optimism can’t help but run high for the future of girls’ basketball, where the eighth-graders went undefeated and the freshmen nearly did the same.

“Some classes are more athletically inclined,” said Mike Cothern, counselor and coach of that eighth-grade team.

As incoming classes continue to flirt with the 100 mark, its only natural that more students will get involved.

“Both [smarts and talent are important], and parent involvement,” Cothern said. “With more options, however, we sometimes weaken other teams.”

That’s a risk school officials are willing to take — especially as it shows more overall participation in their younger grades.

“We’re hopefully reaching some kids who may not have taken part in any activities,” Makelky said.

Still, even stretched, these classes appear to be loading up the Pinedale teams for the long haul.

“They give us great strength starting a program,” Adam said.

For football, the foundation is more seniority-based, but Gregory has been glad to see the numbers.

“Numerically, we’ll be in the 50’s again,” Gregory said. “It definitely affords us a little more flexibility.”

An unfortunate rarity even happened this year: The girls’ volleyball had to make cuts.

“Every program is on pretty solid ground,” Makelky said.

And for the coaches, it may get a little hectic, but that comes with the territory — one they’re now glad to be in.

“It gets a little crazy at times, but overall it is a good group,” Adam said. “They listen well and do what you ask them to do.

“I’m looking forward to these kids growing up.”

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