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Bemdji coaches spend first few days analyzing team, individual strengths

Bemidji High School assistant football coach Jim Mckeon runs his defensemen through their drills on Tuesday afternoon during the second day of fall practice. The Lumberjacks have spent the first two days learning the playbook and instilling tempo and attitude. MONTE DRAPER | BEMIDJI PIONEER

BEMIDJI -- During Tuesday morning's practice Bemidji High School head volleyball coach Teresa Colligan constantly monitored the varsity and junior varsity candidates who were participating in the various workout sessions on the three high school practice courts.

Following consecutive trips to the state tournament, which included last year's victory over Owatonna in the consolation semifinals, the Lumberjacks have established themselves as a volleyball power. And, even though BHS will have to replace its top four front court players, Colligan believes that the Jacks should continue to be a team that can challenge for a trip to the state meet.

On Tuesday the coach was observing her players and searching for the athletes who will accept that challenge.

"A coach has to take good looks at everybody," Colligan said. "I know we're not going to be in full fall conditioning after only two days but I'm looking to see who worked in the offseason. I'm also looking at the players in terms of skill and how they will fit in with the team."

And Colligan likes what she is seeing.

"What has impressed me the most so far is the enthusiasm and work ethic of all of the players," she said. "This is a very good group to work with."

The group features a handful of key contributors to last year's success, including hitters Myria Colley and Claire Laakso, setter Alexa Greendahl and defensive specialist Hanna Olson. Those players know what it takes to reach the state tournament and Colligan will expect them to lead the Jacks to another run at the section title.

"I don't care who we lost from last year or who we have coming back, our expectations are the same -- to be a top team in the section," the coach said. "We may have to take a different approach to get there but the expectations are the same."

Hendricks happy with progress

Lumberjacks head football coach Troy Hendricks and his staff also have developed a state power. Bemidji has advanced to the state tournament four straight seasons and Hendricks believes that this year's squad can add to that resume`.

"We're a work in progress but we're moving at a fast pace," Hendricks said about the team's first two days on the practice field. "We have worked on our offense, defense and special teams play and I like what I'm seeing. During the first three days you can't wear pads so we are using that time to instil tempo, attitude and plenty of Xs and Os."

Hendricks and his staff believe that team speed leads to success. If that is the case, the 2013 Lumberjacks will be formidable once again.

"From a football standpoint, I'm very happy with our speed," Hendricks said. "Now it's the coaches' job to put everybody in the right places. And I believe we have some roster options that will enable us to do that.

"As a coaching staff we put the pressure on ourselves to make the players the best they can be and the kids have that same approach," Hendricks added. "If that happens the season will be a success."

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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