Archive for Thursday, December 16, 2004

Lions hoping string of sports success carries over from fall to winter

December 16, 2004

There is nothing Matt Warner's touchdown-passing prowess in football can do to help Lansing High's boys' basketball team this winter, nor is there anything Jeff Slater's skills as a tailback can do to help the hoops squad.

Likewise, it isn't likely that Emily Goodlin's ability to dig a volleyball will make a huge difference for the LHS girls' basketball team.

Still, there is plenty those athletes, and many others, can draw from their fall sports success that could have a positive impact on their winter sports teams - especially when it comes to confidence.

"I feel like regardless of whether it's football or baseball or whatever, hopefully Lansing athletics is breeding a sense of success and a desire to strive for that perfection," LHS wrestling coach Ron Averill said.

That certainly seems to be the case, given the immense success the Lions' fall sports programs experienced this year. In what was one of the most successful fall seasons in recent memory, the Lansing football team shook off an 0-2 start, posted a program-best 8-3 record and marched to the regional championship game for the first time in its history. The volleyball team also made its fifth straight appearance in the state tournament and first in Class 5A.

Now, many athletes from those teams are trying to continue their fall sports success in the winter. It's a welcome sign to their coaches.

In addition to Averill, whose wrestling squad has about a half-dozen members who played on the varsity football team, boys' basketball coach Don Allen said he had noticed heightened desire from his nine football athletes on the basketball court during the first few weeks of the season.

"Carrying over some of the success from football helps us," said Allen, whose squad went 12-9 last year. "Everyone comes in with a winning mindset to start with. They want to get the season started because it's still fresh in their minds that they've had some success.

"It's not a situation where they want to get basketball started to forget football. They had a great year in football, and we want to carry some of that momentum with us. We've got quite a few of those guys, and I think it's going to help us."

Allen will look to that group for more than confidence, however. He also is asking them for leadership. LHS has no seniors on its roster, so Allen is counting on postseason-tested football juniors David Kern, Jeff Slater, Cody Mohan, Ryan Robbins and Warner to show the way.

"They've been competitive and they've been successful," Allen said. "That's the nature of this group."

Goodlin, a four-year varsity volleyball standout and four-year varsity basketball player, said she had tried to bring the LHS volleyball team's sense of unity to the basketball court to help the Lions improve on last year's 7-14 record. So far, she said, it seems to be working.

"In volleyball we all got along really good," she said, "and if we can instill that here, that we need to be team players, then it'll have a good impact on this team."

First-year coach Keith Andrews has noticed the attitude change already, he said, and added that he hoped the wins soon would follow.

"I would hope that the winning carries over from volleyball," he said. "I hope that carries over to where we have a winning attitude. We've had quotes all week about winning. We want to get 'em used to winning, we want to get 'em happy winning, and we expect to win. You've gotta want to before you can."

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