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Game off

Spring break offers reprieve for some area high school teams
By: Justin A. Lawson Journal Sports Writer
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Area schools will be eerily quiet this week with students out for spring break. But while the majority of the student body will be free to enjoy their break, a handful of sports teams will keep the lights on and the fields filled up with games and tournaments. The Del Oro boys golf team is one of the few teams playing this week, a diversion from how it has handled the break in the past. The Eagles traveled to Stockton on Monday to play in the McNair Golf Tournament for the first time. “The Reserve is where the (California Interscholastic Federation) Masters was last season,” Del Oro coach Hal Steinbeck said. “I know some of the kids haven’t gotten a chance to play the tournament so hopefully we can get to that point where we can again get to the Masters and this will be a good experience for the kids that haven’t played it.” The Placer baseball team is playing in the River City Tournament, which started Monday, while the Del Oro baseball team traveled to Woodland for the Woodland Easter Classic, which runs through Wednesday. No Pioneer Valley League or Sierra Foothill League games are scheduled during the break, which leaves it up to each coach to decide if the team will play in a tournament or game. Del Oro boys tennis coach Jill Tooker said tournaments may work for team sports, but it’s harder to schedule matches over the break for individual sports. “Individual sports, the kids don’t feel like they have to stay,” Tooker said. “They still feel like they’re in their individual mentality.” But not all teams will play during the break. The Del Oro softball team will take the week off, while the junior varsity team will play in a tournament. All Placer teams, except for baseball, are off but some members of the track team will travel to Palo Alto on Friday for the Stanford Invites. The break is a welcome sight for teams with injury concerns. The Placer girls soccer team has two key players out for prolonged periods – goalkeeper Jenelle Pickard has a broken arm (six weeks) and defender Caitlin Letcher has a sprained ankle (four-six weeks). “Some kids are traveling with family, they’re juniors and seniors in high school or they’re going on church trips to help with the poor,” Placer coach Steve Cook said. “There’s a lot of kids that go away and some just need a break because of ankle sprains, knee hurting, etc., so we just give them time off that way when they come back they should be fresh.” Cook’s daughter, Ashley Cook, who is a team captain and a starting midfielder, is in Mexico with a church group giving aid to the poor. With nine days or more off in the middle of the season the first thought that comes to mind is rust when the players come back. While that will likely be true for some, coaches weren’t concerned. “I’m sure most of them will play golf on their own all the way through spring break and they’ll be ready to go when we get back,” Steinbeck said. “You’ve heard the expression gym rats in basketball, well these kids are course rats. I think they’d rather be playing golf than anything else.”