Local high school teams begin fall practices

Griff Servati,
The Van Alstyne Leader
Van Alstyne High School coach Mikeal Miller addresses his team on the first day of practice Aug. 3.

Last month, the University Interscholastic League, the governing body of Texas high school athletics, announced its plans for fall 2020 sports, which opened up as scheduled for schools in the 1A to 4A classes and delayed the start for 5A and 6A schools.

Van Alstyne High School’s football and volleyball teams took the field at 7 a.m. Aug. 3.

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 over 90 boys out for the team competing in the 4A division this year.

Coach Mikeal Miller told the group it was their job to teach them the game of football but more than that, to help teach them to become men, and that as coaches, their job was not just to teach skills but life lessons that this game teaches.

The Van Alstyne Lady Panther volleyball team started its season on the track next to the football team.

Coach Veronica Mendez, who led the 2019 team to the state finals, launched the new season by addressing the uncertainty of life during the coronavirus pandemic.

"There's a lot of uncertainty and chaos around us right now,“ she said, “but what we do in the gym this week gives us a little more control over our future. What we have control over is effort and focus in everything that we do."

At Howe High School, the Bulldogs took the field later in the afternoon with practices starting at 4 p.m.

Athletic Director Bill Jehling emphasized that the teams’ "success would center around the effort and work of the big guys on the line. I am very proud of their effort on day one, we have a lot of work but a great start."

The team was already running simulated game-like situations with new offensive coordinator Dru Murry signaling plays from the sideline.

The Bulldogs are moving to the no-huddle play calling that includes hand signals and wristbands to speed up its offense.

Jehling said in the team huddle, "The returnees can already see on day one that we are more advanced in our offensive plays than we were at this point last season."

Van Alstyne’s Miller started the season as he always does, praying over his team. If ever there was a season that needed to be prayed over, it would be this one.

The Howe High School Bulldogs work on the offense during the first day of practices Aug, 3.