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Van-Far spring sports have started

Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2024 at 6:36 pm

By Brandie Gay

Practices started Monday, Feb. 26, for the Van-Far spring athletes. Van-Far spring season offers baseball, golf and track and field.

This year, the baseball team has a new coach, Cameron Huff. Last year Van-Far baseball had a record of 1 – 16, losing in the first round of district play to Silex.

Huff said, as a new baseball coach here at Van-Far his goals for the program are to create a winning culture, have player development, and bring a district championship to the program.

“The program has taken a slight decline in the last five years,” he said. “I believe they’ve only won five or six games in that stretch. The last district title baseball won was in 2018 and the goal of making a playoff run is steep but achievable.”

He added that, “I have a great group of guys that come to practice ready to get after it every day. Currently, I have 22 players, which I think is the most the program has had in a very long time. Within this group of 22 players there are four seniors, middle infielder Gage Gibson, and outfielders Branson Salmon, Blake Foster and Tarion Aguirre. It is important to me to keep numbers up, as I want to build a winning program not just a winning year.”

He explained the season would open with three games in the first week. On March 18 in Jeff City at Calvary Lutheran, then the home opener on the 19th against Mexico Military Academy, and then Friday, March 22, when the team plays Tuscumbia at home.

“It is important that we hit the ground running this year,” he said. “These are three games that if we show up and play our style of baseball, we will walk away with wins. I stressed to the boys that the key to wins this year is defense and creating chaos on the base path. This year, we are going to be aggressive; we have the speed to be dangerous on the base path, which will create problems for the opposing team’s defense.”

Coach Pat Connaway would continue to coach after basketball, but it won’t be basketball. He is coaching golf this spring. He has three goals for this golf season: 1. Continue developing each golfer’s game and to continue to get better. 2. Try and compete for a district championship. And 3. Have a lot of fun!

Connaway said he has five players that have been practicing this week and we they would have six total starting next week.

“Coaching golf and baseball are totally different,” he said. “Baseball for me is easy; I grew up playing the game, played at the collegiate level and know the game inside and out. You won’t find too many people that know more about baseball than I do.”

“Golf, on the other hand, I’m still learning,” he added. “I’m not the best golfer in the world, so I have to look at ways I can help the kids and reach out for help when needed.

Jared Baskett and Reading have been helping kids with their swings and fundamentals, which has been a huge help Connaway noted.

“These are things I can’t really help kids with, but I will help them with coarse management, putting and trying to make smart decisions,” he said. “I’ll leave the swing technique and things like that to Brett and Jared!”

So far, to him, golf seems a little more relaxing than baseball. Nikos and Clara are the only two seniors on the team. Pacey and Kasen are sophomores, Kaden Whitaker is a junior and Kaleb Baskett is a freshman.

Coach Kris Cross has been coaching track and field for the past couple of years at Van-Far.

This year, Cross said she has 14 girls and 21 boys come out for track, adding, that some of boys are playing baseball.

Cross said her goals are always for the athletes to improve over the season, set some PR’s and have some fun along the way.

“We always hope to have some athletes qualify for state also,” she said. “We have three meets at home this year that we are really looking forward to, and we are grateful to have volunteers from the school and community to help run the events.”

The first is March 18. It is an open meet for the varsity kids. The second meet is April 15, which the Van-Far Invite for our varsity team. The third meet on April 25 is for the school’s junior high athletes.

“The junior high meet will host most of our conference teams,” Cross said.

She has five seniors in track this year.

“For the boys, we have Gage Gibson, Dominc Hartley, Richard Hayden, and Tarion Aguirre-McBride,” Cross added. “For the girls, we just have McKenna Engh-Hoffman. We are looking forward to a great season and hope that we have fans to come out and support our teams at the home meets.”