Fall sports practices begin

By Griff Servati
For the Van Alstyne Leader
The Panther football team started the new season in the same way it ends each game, with team prayer.
The Panthers worked on some team aspects under the lights on the first day of practice.

Van Alstyne High School's football, cross country, and volleyball teams took the field at 7 a.m. on Monday. The Panthers ran out through a tunnel of parents and cheerleaders - a Van Alstyne tradition - to celebrate the start of the new school year.

The Panthers had close to eighty boys out for the team this year. Coach Mikeal Miller told the group it was their job as coaches to teach them the game of football and help guide them to become men. He said, "our job is not just to teach football skills but life lessons that this game brings us." The first few days of practices are held without full pads and with helmets. Miller divides the groups into two equal squads with a rotation of stations to work on individual and position skills. The blue and white squads will have a scrimmage on Saturday at 9 a.m. in the "Blue / White Scrimmage" at Panther Stadium.

The Van Alstyne Lady Panther volleyball team started its season on the track next to the football team. Coach Kelly Hutchinson is taking over the program as the head coach. Hutchinson, who came to Van Alstyne from Midlothian, will be entering her first season as a head coach. She has experience as a player at the collegiate level, coaching club, and being on the coaching staff at a larger school. Hutchison spoke to her team at the track about the expectations communicated to the team this summer for timed runs to begin practices. She talked about the importance of mentality, "some of you believe even before the run starts that you are not going to meet expectations. You have defeated yourself before you begin."  The new season gets underway quickly for volleyball, with scrimmages set for Saturday and the first actual game on August 10th against Pilot Point.

The Cross Country teams started practice also on Monday morning. The team coached by Kes Ingram and Russell Best put in work on the track alongside the other groups. The 7 a.m. start for practices wasn't an early start for these runners as they primarily do their job even before the sun comes up. The team will begin its season on August 20th at the Cowtown Challenge in Fort Worth.

Coach Hutchinson speaks to her team on her first day as Lady Panther head coach.
Coach Hutchinson spoke of the importance of mentality during the first day of practice.
The Panther's first day of practice focused on individual and group drills.
Lady Panther Volleyball players started the morning on the track while the football players did work on the field.
Coach Jeff Middleton gives instructions to one of his linemen on the first day of practice.
Senior Will Frey runs with the ball on his last first day of practice.
Panther receiver and defender put work in on drills.
Coach Miller speaks to his players prior to the first day of practice.
A Van Alstyne tradition on the first day of practice, parents form a tunnel to cheer on the fall teams.