HANNAHVILLE - There are many new faces on the volleyball court at Hannahville as it prepares to open a new season.
The Soaring Eagles, who open with a pair of matches on Beaver Island this weekend, have 10 on their team. Among them are six eighth-graders, including four first-year players.
"This is going to be a big learning experience for the girls," said coach Tom Ohman. "Although, they have the potential to be very good volleyball players. They're smart girls who pay attention to what's going on in practice. The future looks good."
Among the returners are seniors Mary Saldana and Alicia O'Brien, junior Selena Williams and sophomore Tyra Boda.
"We're depending a lot on our older girls," said Ohman. "They'll have to take on leadership roles. They're very crucial to what we're trying to accomplish. The eighth-graders are building our program. In a sense, we're starting from scratch."
Returning eighth-graders are Ceyenna Boychief and Shannon Ortiz. New to the team are Dayson and Cecilia Beaver, Lena Philemon and Samantha Halfaday.
Sept. 6-7 - at Beaver Island; Sept. 12 - Munising Baptist; Sept. 20-21 - at Mackinac Island; Sept. 28 - Northern Lights League tournament at Sault Ste. Marie.
Oct. 3 - Big Bay de Noc; Oct. 4-5 - at Paradise; Oct. 8 - at Munising Baptist; Oct. 16 - at Bay Mills Ojibwe Charter (DH); Oct. 21 - at Big Bay de Noc.
"Right now, we're teaching the fundamentals," said Ohman. "Since we don't have a middle school program, these girls get pushed into the varsity level right away. Although, every school in our (Northern Lights) league goes through that. My job as coach is to make sure they have fun and don't get frustrated with the game. We have to make sure we learn and get better as time goes on."
What can the Soaring Eagles expect in Friday and Saturday's matches on Beaver Island?
"They're always well coached," said Ohman. "This weekend will give us an opportunity to see what we can do and what we need to work on. We have some girls who've never played the game, but their work ethic is very good and they're improving steadily. Down the road, I think it will pay off."
Among the other league teams, Ohman points to Maplewood Baptist as the team to beat.
"They and Mackinac Island also have strong programs," he said. "I think Munising Baptist will also be very good this year. We're going through what they were going through a couple years ago. Ojibwe Charter will also be improved."