"...Hopefully we can become a scrappy, defensive team"- coach Mike Woody
Tiger coach Mike Woody was pleased with the large turnout at the opening practice of the season but admitted at this point there were more questions than answers regarding his 2011 team.
Part of the reason for Woody's concern is the loss of several talented seniors from last year's squad that compiled a 9-19 record and won two of seven matches in Missota Conference play. Chief among the losses were all-state hitter Katie Habeck, who now plays for NCAA Division II national champion Concordia-St. Paul, and 6-2 hitter Jordan Bridges.
"Every part of our game will be a question mark to start the season," Woody said. "Hopefully we can become a scrappy, defensive team."
Six letterwinners return to form the nucleus of this year's team: seniors Laura Steege, Beckah Lippert, Allie Pierskalla, Andrea Smith and Adrienne Jolicoeur and junior Mia Johnston.
Seven other juniors should also make a run at varsity court time, including Emily Nelson, Kaylene Seurer, Kelsey Lindell, Rachel Eckert, Kayla Collins, Elissa Baago and Courtney Johnston.
As usual the competition level in the conference and section will be top-notch. Woody said perennial state power Shakopee, Chaska and Chanhassen should battle it out for the top spot in the Missota with Owatonna, Rochester Century and Rochester Mayo the teams to beat in the chase for Section 1AAA honors.
As for his team, Woody said he is setting modest goals.
"We're hoping to have a .500 season and finish in the middle of both the conference and section," he said.
Kelli Hrdina-Amie returns as Woody's varsity assistant coach with veteran Jon Ostgaard handling the B-squad team. Troy Hedtke and Megan LaChapelle will guide the freshmen teams.
Heather Ballstadt and Molly Meinke coach the Boeckman Middle School eighth graders while Kerry Beton and Ann Schmidt work with the seventh grade squads. At Dodge Middle School, Maggie Endersbe coaches the eighth grade and Megan Roche the seventh with an extra coach to be added at each level.
Farmington kicks off its 2011 season, Thursday, Aug.25, with a non-conference match at Albert Lea.