COVINGTON - Newton softball coach Jason LaChappelle has battled an interesting obstacle this summer trying to prepare his squad for the 2008 season.
"Working is the biggest detriment to our program over the summer," LaChappelle said. "I remember being in high school and not having a summer job and everyone did summer ball. But more and more of our kids are having to work and fewer and fewer of our kids are coming out."
As a result, LaChappelle has not been able to put together a full team. There have been anywhere from six to eight girls at a typical practice with that number dwindling down to two players on occasion.
"It's really hard to get into new workouts when so few show up. I had pretty dismal numbers when we started our summer workouts and I'm still not getting a full team yet," LaChappelle said. "It's kind of rough, because instead of starting in June, I waited until July."
Without a full team to work with, LaChappelle has focused mainly on conditioning.
"A lot of the drills we're doing are more in line with conditioning than actual practice. The girls are running and building stamina," he said.
While they cannot have a mandatory practice, LaChappelle is anxious to get started as he knows he has a lot of work to do after losing six senior starters from last season's team.
Although he doesn't have the numbers he would like, he is appreciative of the girls that are coming out, including senior Haleigh Higgins, and returning varsity players Holly Springer, Chaconna Marks and Markea Sheppard.
"We're going to have a real young team. A lot of the new girls we'll see coming in this year will be freshman. We've got some pretty impressive young players. Losing six senior starters really set us back," LaChappelle said. "It's not anything we can't come back from. It's just that we're starting behind where we were last year."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.