The Salt River High School varsity football team began practicing on August 2 for the start of their season, which began with a scrimmage on August 19 and their first regular-season game August 26. The varsity volleyball team began practicing the week after, with the first game set to take place September 2 at 6 p.m. at Chandler Prep.
The football team is led by Shawn Lytle, who also serves as the SRHS athletic director. Lytle and his coaching staff have been preparing for the football season and have been learning new route runs and play names throughout their practices. At press time, Lytle said they have 25 players on the team.
Junior captain Lloyd Lewis said he was eager to get back out on the football field this season. He said with a new coach, they are looking to improve. He has also taken on a new role this season, after being selected by his coaches as a captain, along with teammate Jacob Lopez.
“My job is to lead stretches and get practice started,” Lewis said. “I get them fired up and tell them to hustle and lead them in lines during practice and games.”
Although this is his first year as a captain, Lewis said he is embracing the role because he really cares about the guys on the team and he wants them to do their best.
“Oh, I push them,” he said.
Lewis said he is looking forward to experiencing the season with his teammates and the team knows what they need to work on.
“We are getting there (game ready), but we can do a lot better. We are improving, and I am confident in our team,” he said.
SRHS sophomore volleyball player Celia Padilla-Hicks is playing for the second straight year. Last season she competed on both the junior varsity and varsity volleyball teams. Throughout the summer, she spent time practicing and also took part in the camps.
“[Coming to summer practice] really helped me prepare for this season,” she said. “I love volleyball, and especially hitting. Volleyball makes me feel so alive, and there is no pressure.”
She said playing volleyball is easy since she has played for a long time, and this year she has noticed the improvement in a lot of the girls who came out for volleyball. She hopes to contribute as an outside hitter on this year’s squad.
Teammate Leann Watchman has been playing volleyball since coming to Salt River as a sophomore. She plays setter on the team, and although she would like to hit more, she sad she does enjoy leading the team.
“I like setting because it keeps control of the team,” she said.
Watchman is confident in her knowledge as a setter and said she understands the right positions. The biggest challenge this season for her is trying to get the team to play together, and she said she feels like a stronger player this season and hopes to go all out.
Senior Blossom Wood said she really enjoys playing volleyball because she thinks it is a lot of fun. She said the feeling she gets from watching college players hit and block the ball keeps her interested. In her final year at SRHS, she hopes to just enjoy her time and be productive as an outside hitter.