Several weeks ago, when Emma Daoud-Hebert signed with Central Washington, she got the star treatment from Woodinville coach Andrea “Hammer” Roelen.
A ceremony took place in the Woodinville gym. Daoud-Hebert’s family was on hand, as well as several of her graduating teammates. In addition, thirty players who were either returnees or incoming freshmen witnessed the event.
“We did a great celebration of her and she signed and we took pictures,” Roelen said. “That was a big deal and really exciting. Exciting for Emma and her future. And so exciting that the incoming freshmen could witness what happens when you're going to go on to play collegiately.”
Forming these positive associations is critical, especially for a club that reached the playoffs last year for the first time since 2011.
Last season generated momentum and a sense of accomplishment. But there’s no getting around the fact that this year’s team will be vastly inexperienced. The key will be how much of an imprint last year left upon the young kids coming up.
“We're going to be young,” Coach Roelen said. “You can't graduate seven seniors and not have a lot of positions open. I find this very exciting because I love having people compete. I want to see who steps up. I want to see their talents and skills.”
The season starts in September. But Roelen and her staff will be hosting a camp this week for middle school girls. Then this weekend, the Falcon varsity will attend a two-day trip to the University of Washington. Next week will then mark the beginning of Falcon spring camp.
“I love going into camp and finding a kid who surprises you,” Roelen said. “Where you see something stand out and go `Wow! You've got some gifts. Here's how we can utilize you.’"
Heading into the 2019-20 season, the Falcon varsity has a lot of question marks. But familiar faces will return.
“Zoe Friedman will be a senior, Cora Lundquist will be a junior and Jaclyn Hopkins will be a sophomore,” Roelen said. “All three are working really hard and competing (as setters). It will be exciting to see at try outs who will deliver, who can run an offense. I'm also excited to see some of the freshmen and retuning junior class to see who is getting all over it. Nothing is set in stone yet as to what the varsity lineup will be. I find that exciting. Some coaches find that nerve wracking, but I don’t.”
Also of note, sophomores Alana Castaneda and Marissa Till got much experience last season as freshmen.
“We're establishing a culture of winning again,” Roelen said. “They got a little taste of it last season. And they want more. It's exciting to me that there is a new feeling. Woodinville? Playoffs! Woo hoo!
“I want kids to face challenges,” she added. “I want to know that If we stumble, if we make mistakes - what are you going to do after that?
“I adore these kids. They are sponges and they're soaking it up. And I'm so excited about this!”