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Pirates hoping for another strong year

Coach Jeremy Wooten, pictured in center, discusses strategy with his 2017 Yellowjacket football team. Wooten is pleased with his district competitors for the 2018 season. (JANA RAYBURN | TCB )Coach Jeremy Wooten, pictured in center, discusses strategy with his 2017 Yellowjacket football team. Wooten is pleased with his district competitors for the 2018 season. (JANA RAYBURN | TCB )

By Caitlin McAlister

The Spurger Pirates have high expectations for the fall.

After a great season in sports during the 2017-18 school year, athletic director Lin Ellis said that he thinks that the Pirates will do just as well in the coming year.

"We have a strong sports program," Ellis said. "We'll match or, I hope, go further than we did."

While Spurger does not have a football program, it does have three other fall sports: volleyball, cross-country and basketball.

Last year, Spurger's volleyball team went to the regional tournament, the first time the team has done so in more than 20 years.

"I think we have a really good shot at going all the way to the regional tournament again," Ellis said.

The cross-country team also performed well during the 2017-18 year, with both the boys and the girls making it to the regional meet. The boys were second overall in the district, while the girls were district champions.

Ellis said he expects that the girls will likely be district champions again. He said he believes that the boys have a shot at being first in the district as well.

Basketball begins later than the other two, with the season officially opening in October. Last year's girls' basketball team made it to the regional quarterfinals for the first time in the school's history.

Ellis said that the large number of returning players this fall gives him confidence that Spurger will continue to do well in the coming year. All but one of the players from last year's volleyball team will be coming back, plus all of the runners on the girls' cross-country team. Most of the boys' cross-country team will be returning as well.

"We have teams that are returning that can play," Ellis said, adding that all of Spurger's sports teams made it to playoffs last year. "We had a great year."

Ellis said that the teams have not begun practicing yet, due to UIL rules regarding summer training. However, students wishing to work out on their own can take advantage of the school's open gym, which is available four days a week from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

"There are no coaches coaching them, because that would be against the rules," Ellis said. He explained that the open gym is intended to both provide student athletes with a way to stay in shape and give students something to do over summer vacation.

Ellis said that actual practices for the volleyball and cross-country teams will begin in early August. The volleyball team's first game will be August 3, while the cross-country team's first meet will be sometime in either late August or early September.

Ellis said he hopes the community will support Spurger's athletic programs this year.

"I would love to see the community come out and support the kids," he said. "They work so hard during the summer on their own time and throughout the year."