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High school sports

By any name, there’s no substitute for their support

Backups play key roles on high school teams but must maintain the right mind-set


They are the players who rarely hear their names over the public address system despite their hard work in practices.

They are the players who have some of the most difficult jobs on the team.

They see limited varsity playing time but have to be upbeat, supportive, attentive and ready if their name is called.

They are called role players, non-starters, backups, reserves, substitutes and by some, bench-warmers.

”I try to tell my girls all the time that regardless of what your role is, coming off the bench is a harder role and probably a more important role,” Arvada West girls volleyball coach Debbie Pospisil said. “You have to be able to perform at this level for maybe one or two points, versus having the opportunity to play for 25 points.

“It’s harder mentally to be a role player than maybe to be a person that is expected to be out there and be your go-to kid. It’s hard because we do expect them to cheer and do those things but they also have to know and understand what is going on in the game.”

And that goes for reserves in almost all sports.

“Everybody, especially in a football program, has their role,” Douglas County football coach Gene Hill said. “I had a talk with our sophomores and juniors the other day. They get frustrated because they don’t get a lot of playing time.

“A lot of times young guys have to start being scout-team guys preparing those varsity guys for Friday night games and then having to go play their game on Saturday.”

Sophomore lineman Sean Wulforst is on the Rock Canyon football scout team but figures hard work will pay dividends.

“I’m still part of the team,” he said. “I know I’ll make it to varsity if I just work as hard as I can. I watch the varsity play, I see what they are doing and do the same thing they do.

“It is pretty frustrating especially when I’m on the scout team and they are just taking reps on me, but sometimes I do get to suit up and go to the varsity game. If I want to be where they are and not be on the practice squad, then I have to be better than them. I can’t just go through the motions because I’m on the bottom of the totem pole.”

Legacy senior reserve linebacker/tight end Austin Perri contributes on the Lightning bench.

“Even if you’re not playing, if you are on the sidelines, you want to make sure everybody is paying attention and focused,” Perri said. “During the games, you want to make sure everyone is hyping up the people that are on the field.”

Randy Freeman is a first-year soccer coach at Douglas County and said he didn’t want to start off his tenure by cutting some of the team’s seniors.

“We talked before the season that their playing times would be very limited, “ he said.

Huskies senior Zachary Dizdar accepted the coach’s position.

“I consider myself more in a leadership role especially since I’m not seeing a lot of playing time,” he said. “My role is better suited on the bench at this point because we’re developing some younger players. It’s frustrating, but I understand there is a greater purpose. I wouldn’t be doing this if all these guys weren’t some of my closest friends.”

There are times when reserves become regulars, like at Horizon when four starters on the softball team were out because of injuries.

“A full roster is so important for practice, especially when doing drills and situation work,” coach Gary Mares said. “Having players at new positions is very challenging to maintain continuity. Plus, depth provides motivation and competition.”

Senior Angie Hults is a reserve first basemen who wants to be in the lineup but knows her role on the Arapahoe softball team.

“I think of myself as a positive role model,” she said. “I’ve had my fair share of frustrations and I’ve mentally cracked a couple times, but it is more about being proud of myself after it’s over. I can still be positive and play a huge role on the team even if I am sitting on the bench.”


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