Although the winter season is only a day old, one thing already is apparent at Free State High: The Firebirds are going to fly around the basketball court.
"I made it pretty apparent to the kids that we're going to attempt to get up and down the floor," boys basketball coach Jack Schreiner said after the first day of tryouts Monday, "and in order to do that, we've got to be in pretty good shape.
"The first two weeks are going to be pretty rough, but if you get through those first two weeks, you'll be in the best shape of your life."
The Firebirds had 26 juniors and seniors show for varsity and junior varsity tryouts Monday, and 24 players showed for sophomore tryouts. Schreiner plans to keep 18 players for the varsity-JV teams and about 22 players for the sophomore squad.
After the four days of tryouts, Friday will be the first official practice. But with the Firebirds' season opener against Washburn Rural looming on Dec. 6 at Free State, is two weeks enough time for the team to prepare?
"No, not by any means, but I don't have a choice, do I?" Schreiner said. "I'm really excited. I guess being in a new situation, a new building gives you a little more incentive.
"Not that I wouldn't have been excited at Lawrence High, but this is a new thing and I'm kind of pumped about it."
Here's a look at the Firebirds' other winter sports:
Schreiner wasn't the only basketball coach pleased with his players' effort on Monday.
"There's a lot of girls out here giving a 100 percent," girls coach Ward Brethour said. "As a coach, that's the first thing I look for -- a desire to work. And it's evident that it's here."
The Firebirds attracted 17 varsity-junior varsity hopefuls and 25 potential sophomore teamers to the first day of tryouts, which end on Wednesday.
"I actually expected the numbers to be a little bit higher," Brethour said. "I think some of them -- knowing my expectations or knowing what was in store -- cut themselves from trying out. But I only want those athletes who are willing to work in the first place."
Brethour plans to keep 16 to 18 players for both the varsity-junior varsity teams and the sophomore squad.
"It looks like a really good group to work with," the Brethour said. "Basketball's a long season, and if you don't have a good group to work with that makes it enjoyable, it seems that much longer."
Coach Darrell Andrew actually held practice on Monday instead of tryouts because he isn't going to cut anyone.
"Things went well. We had between 30-35 kids for our first day, which was about what I expected," Andrew said.
Andrew, who is hoping to fill schedules for varsity, junior varsity and sophomore teams, was pleased with the quantity and quality of wrestlers.
"What surprised me the most was that in Lawrence traditionally you're a football player or a wrestler," Andrew said. "This year a good portion of wrestlers were out for football. I think that's great. High school is an opportunity to do it all. Athletes are athletes whether on the football field or on the mat."
Although the Firebirds are lacking in senior leadership, Andrew is optimistic about the upcoming season.
"I think overall (Monday) went really well for us," Andrew said. "Everybody in the program -- the kids, the assistant coaches, the parents -- are really excited.
"Being my first year here as a head coach, there's a lot of pressure on my shoulders. I actually felt a little bit nervous today."