Two days after high school football officially started, it was every other sports’ turn to get back into gear on Wednesday.
The soccer cleats are being tied up again, tennis balls are back to taking beatings from rackets and the ground is back to being trampled by cross country runners.
While every team is facing a fresh season, there might not be a team staring at a newer season than Marysville volleyball.
The Vikings have lost seven seniors from last year’s team. Last season’s staring lineup returned no players from last season. They also have a new addition, as Ryan Welser is coming back to his alma mater to coach the Vikings back to the top of high school volleyball.
“None of these girls have won a state championship, and they didn’t win districts last season,” he said after practice. “We’re proud of our past, but most of these girls weren’t alive when we won our first state championship.”
While Welser is taking the reigns as head coach this season, it is hardly new territory. Standing in Marysville’s gym during Wednesday’s practice was a familiar feeling, as he began as a varsity assistant coach in 1997. Even when he manned East Detroit’s program for four years and Grosse Pointe South’s for six, Welser always referred to Marysville as “we.”
“I would call and say, ‘How did we do against Fraser tonight?'” he said. “This is home for me.”
When Welser took the job in spring, he hit the ground running with sound organization and communication with his players. Seniors Nicole Slis and Ali Bastianelli both agreed this year’s offseason showed an increase in productivity.
“Everything is broken down and organized,” Bastianelli said. “Everything is one way. There is no four ways to do it, it’s ‘this way.”’
The focus on discipline and coaching basic fundamentals will come in handy this season, since the Vikings are practically starting from scratch.
Although Welser said losing last year’s seniors as a “disadvantage,” he is looking forward to the competition in practice before their first match in nine days.
“There’s lots of opportunity (on our roster),” he said. “I can guarantee you our starting lineup on day one isn’t the same as the end of the season.”
Volleyball teams from around the state will have their first matches on Aug. 22.
Cross country, boys soccer and girls swimming also will hold their first contests on that day as well. St. Clair’s boys cross country team heads into the season looking for its third straight state title.
Boys tennis and girls golf will be springing into action with their first meets on Aug. 20.