PANAMA CITY, FL (WJHG/WECP) For area Juco teams, it is back to work this week with the start of official fall practice. October 1st marks the start of official fall practice.
Teams, like those at Northwest Florida, Chipola and Gulf Coast get 6 weeks of summer work in and most, if not all the players on these teams come in for that. Then they take a break in September and get back at it in October.
For coach Roonie Scovel and the her Gulf Coast program, after winning national titles in 2016 and 17, last season was a 4th place finish nationally, so the bar remains very high!
The idea of any titles, conference, state or otherwise, certainly seems la long way off, especially given so much of the roster has turned over, with 8 of the 13 players incoming freshman. That includes one each from Port St. Joe, South Walton and Fort Walton Beach.
"When you look at last year's roster and what we lost, we lost 60 to 70 to 80 percent of our offense, and to say it's all new. No veteran experience, nobody with any significant minutes, I think it's going to be kind of exciting, yet a little anxious about it too."
Coach Scovel will lead her team up to Albany, Georgia Saturday for a jamboree with teams from around the southeast. She says her players are rather anxious to get to that and go up against somebody wearing a different set of team colors.
"I think we need that, we need an us versus them." coach Scovel told me Tuesday afternoon after practice. "Because we've had a lot of us versus us. We need an us versus them very badly. So I wish we were playing tomorrow, even though it might be very ugly, we just need an us versus them."
And that will be some good on-court testing. It's correct to say this team, these young ladies, have already been tested in a different way, a real life way. They lost teammate Keyshawn Johnson about four weeks ago, to a car accident!
"And we've been through a tragedy so we've kind of had to take ten steps backwards so that we can move forward." Scovel says. "And you know I think we're probably back to even right now. And we've got about a month to kind of put some of that behind us, but we'll always remember things. We've been through a lot, this group, to be a new group, has been through a lot and we've handled it well."
The team coming off conference and state titles, and a 4th place finish nationally. It will take part in two jamborees this month, the regular season tips off at home November 2nd.