Boonville teams gear up for 2020 season despite threat of COVID-19

Chris Bowie
Boonville Pirates football coach Greg Hough works with the offensive line on coming off the ball during practice Monday morning at Gene Reagan field. Hough, in his third year as head coach at Boonville, said 60 kids in grades 9-12 reported for the first day of practice.

For now, the 2020 season will go on for the Boonville Pirates and Lady Pirates.

With the first official day of fall practice on Monday, August 10, the coaches and players alike were just glad to be back on the field even if it’s for a short time.

Of course the Boonville boys soccer team is still waiting to hold its first practice outdoors. Inclement weather has forced the soccer team to hold meeting indoors for two straight days. However, the Pirates finally got on the field for the first time on Wednesday.

Although numbers in some sports exceeded last year, Boonville Pirates football coach Greg Hough said the first day saw approximately 60 players in helmets for an early morning practice.

The Pirates went through conditioning from 6-7:30 a.m. and then had football drills from 8-9:30 a.m.

Hough said for the first two days the players will be helmets only and will review a lot of the stuff they did in July camp.

“The way we backload our summer activities makes for easy transitions and good retention rate going into the first day,”Hough said. “We’ve done what we did today (Monday) 12 times in July. I was excited to be at practice and the kids were too. This year is a roller coaster already and we’ve had one official practice.

“We will ride all the ups and downs and hope to stay on track for Week 1. I’m confident our kids will be ready physically and mentally. These guys have been great to be around and I hope for the best for them.”

Boonville volleyball coach Dina Herzog was also met with good numbers for the first day of practice.

Although the volleyball team held practice that evening, Herzog reported 33 girls out in grades 9-12.

Herzog said the girls will do a lot of conditioning and team stuff this week and then will focus more on team the second week.

“We’ve had a lot of preseason activity with open gyms and with our two weeks of camp so what we are working on now is from what I watched and what I saw during those 16-17 contact days that I had with them in the summer,” Herzog said. “Now we are figuring out their strengths with them in places that we think that they will contribute to the team’s success and we are working on individual skills.”

Herzog added although it’s been only a few days the girls are working really hard. She said they are open to her suggestions and things that she has tried.

“Again, I’m asking kids to set the ball that have never set the ball before,” Herzog said. “I’m asking kids to run right side that are used to running middle. I’m asking kids to run middle that are used to running outside. Definitely changes for the kids but they are very open to trying whatever Ithrow at them.”

The Boonville boys soccer team have also been hit and miss when it comes to getting out on the soccer field.

Although the Pirates have been on the field two out of three days, head coach Kaz Hazell said a total of 20 boys have taken part in drills.

“We're a younger group so I'm just trying to figure out where we are technically sound with the ball, learning different positions and trying to figure out what seniors will be our leaders this year. Just getting a good idea where we are at on the field,” Hazell said.

With 4-5 varsity starters back from last year, Hazell said the soccer team spent part of June doing conditioning drills and then came back in July to work a lot on fundamentals like hitting their passes to feet and moving off the ball.

“I have a couple of kids that are returning and I am really happy to see how much they have improved,”Hazell said. “They've done a great job coming back. I'm just happy to be here with the boys. They're bringing the intensity because we don't know if anything is going to be taken from us for our season, so we are just making the making the most out of it.”

As for the Boonville Lady Pirates softball team, they also hit the ground running on Monday with 18 girls participating in the first practice.

With seven out of nine starters back this fall, head coach Christie Zoeller said the girls are definitely going to be better.

Zoeller said the first three days of practice this week will be used to go over fundamentals like bunt coverages and cut off plays and then on Thursday and Friday they will work on breaking teams apart like varsity work and JV work. Zoeller added that the pitchers will also be throwing a lot and the team as a whole will be conditioning just to get out in the heat.

“I feel like we are picking up where we left off in the summer,”Zoeller said. “We have a big senior class. I think the girls will be fluid and work well together. They’re also going to be used to each other and they’re going to be for the most part used to the positions that they played last year. I also feel like we are going to be strong even with our backups in a lot of positions.”

As for the Boonville Lady Pirates tennis team, they also had to wait to get on the courts due to rain but worked inside for the first practice.

Boonville tennis coach Melissa Harvey said 15 girls took part in practice on the first day.

“This week we are going to hit the fundamentals such as serving, correct form and conditioning,” Harvey said. “Next week we will start a few evaluation rounds and start setting a lineup so we can get some challenges in the week after that.”

The Boonville boys and girls cross-country team also hit the streets for its first official practice on Monday.

With five boys and four girls participating in the first practice, head coach Melissa Baker said right now the team is just working on building stamina.

“We went on a long run this morning and focused on warming up and the importance of mental toughness,” Baker said. “We are meeting at Kemper and running on the Katy Trail or around town this week. I thought the kids had a good first day of practice and I’m looking forward to the season.”

As for the Boonville Lady Pirates golf team, they will return all five starters from last year’s team under head coach Rob VanderLinden.

With a total of 00 girls participating in the first day of practice on Monday, VanderLinden said for the first two weeks he will be working with all the rookies and getting them to where they can hit the balls, and the girls that are experience they are playing as much golf as they can possibly get in.

“It’s like I told all the girls out here, everyone needs to work on their short game and we need to spend a lot of time chipping and putting up on the greens because that is where we can cut our scores the best,”VanderLinden said.

VanderLinden added that the team will have four qualifiers before the first match. He said the first qualifier will be Friday and that will determine who is varsity and who is JV.

Members of the Boonville boys and girls cross-country team get in a little road work during practice on Monday.