COVINGTON - The Alcovy softball team is older, more experienced and doing something it took them half a season to do last year - come together as team.
The Lady Tigers are taking advantage of the Georgia High School Association's voluntary workout rule to tune up for next season. Teams are allowed to hold workouts over the summer, but they must be voluntary.
"We've got four or five seniors, three or four juniors, four or five sophomores and two or three freshman," Alcovy coach Casey Bates said. "They're pretty good right now. The first year it took us almost the entire season to even come close to that. Then last year we came together about halfway through the season. Now, the seniors and the freshman have come together. You've got upperclassman and freshman and sophomores laughing and hanging out and talking together."
Taking the senior leadership role for the third-year team are Kelly Azar and Johnna Bagley. Bates is expecting the rest of the upperclassmen to step up to the challenge once the entire team gets into a routine.
The way the two rising seniors are showing their leadership capabilities is by being good examples.
"I've told them over the last couple of years there are two ways to be a leader; there's a forceful or administrative leader, that's what coaches do, the other way to be a leader is to ask the younger players to help you do something," he said. "If they see you doing it they'll be willing to do it if they see you doing it. The team we have this year has started to do that."
Besides the senior leadership, the other change to Alcovy's summer practice is that they're playing games against other teams and they have more players competing in travel ball.
"The first year we had two, last year we had four now this year we've got seven or eight playing travel ball," Bates said.
Based on the success Bates has seen with the team, he is hoping to try something different for next year.
"If we can get 100 percent dedication, we're going to try to get into a league where we play four games a week for four weeks. I believe if they play 16 games in one month they'll get just as much, if not more, out of it then what they get practicing four days a week," Bates said. "I think we'll get to that next year. The kids like that idea and it'll make it more fun."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.