Thunder Mountain is once again preparing for a season opener in what has been a season of firsts for the new Falcons athletics program.
The varsity girls' basketball team, coached by Juneau-Douglas graduate Tanya Nizich, will open against Petersburg at 6 p.m. Friday in the TMHS gym, and it is ready to get its season underway.
"First game snuck up fast, but we've had two-a-days for the last two weeks just working on fundamentals and conditioning in the mornings, and that gives us more time at night to talk about what we want to talk about as far as offense and defense goes," Nizich said. "Everybody is on the same page and working together to get the first games going. I think it will just help us get out there as a team and see how we work together with the different combinations we have."
The Falcons are pushing for an up-tempo game on the court, and Nizich said the team is well conditioned for that style of play, which is guard oriented. The starting lineup is not yet set, Nizich said.
"I think both offensively and defensively, we're pushing for speed and quickness," she said. "We've got a lot of quick guards out there. Speed and quickness alone helps your offense, and definitely helps your defense."
Olga Lipson agreed, and said the team is ready and already improving.
"We've been running a lot, definitely preparing defensively and working on our shots," she said. "I think this first game is going to be interesting, but I think it's going to go well.
"I think we're starting to get pretty strong. We're young, but we're going to grow fast."
With the first game quickly approaching, Holly White said the most important thing is to identify the areas that needadjustment.
"As a team, honestly, we want to win," she said, "but I couldn't care less if we do as long as we learn from our mistakes."
"We're going to try to win and just learn from playing," Lipson countered.
White also said she has noticed the team's improvement over the short time they've had on the court.
"Oh yeah, I definitely see it," she said about the team's first 10 days of practice.
"I've noticed something from Monday to today," she chuckled.
It is difficult to know exactly what to expect before you actually take the floor for the first time, but Nizich knows her team will find its stride as the season goes on.
"Season expectations are just to grow as a team and find the leaders that we have ... that will carry (us) and push the team," she said. "Every day we'll work as hard as we can. Every night at practice and every weekend in the game, we will push ourselves to the limit. That alone will show in the outcome."
This season will be a learning experience for the student-athletes and coaches alike. Nizich said it's difficult to know exactly what to expect as far as the level of competition goes, but in her mind, every team the Falcons play will be tough.
Soon, the Falcons hope to show their fans and opponents alike how much they want to be one of the teams to beat in Southeast Alaska.
Matthew Tynan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org