Kylie Kufeld was feeling pretty good.
The first-year varsity head volleyball coach for Billings Central had just sent out a summer schedule to all prospective players.
It included the days for open gyms, the dates of the two college camps some of the Rams would be attending and available times for early-morning workouts.
It also had the official start date for the 2014 season.
And summer hadn’t even started yet.
“I was pretty proud of myself,” Kufeld said.
At the time, Kufeld was under the assumption that official practices would begin on Monday, Aug. 18.
“A couple of parents had asked me about tryouts,” she continued. “I told them it was that Monday.”
Knowing the schedule, some families were trying to squeeze in one last vacation before school and the accompanying activities started full bore.
But that all changed.
During a conversation with Huntley Project coach Iona Stookey a couple of weeks later, Kufeld went from feeling good to feeling slightly panicky.
Turned out the MHSA had approved a motion to move all the start of all fall sports practices to the previous Friday so volleyball and cross country would receive equal time with football. High school golf practices begin Thursday.
“I found out while talking with Iona at the Huntley camp,” Kufeld said. “She was asking if I was going to use the extra days.”
“I was like, ‘Um, yeah. I think we’ll use the extra days when we start in the fall,’ ” she finished with a laugh.
Kufeld immediately began texting and e-mailing players and parents about the change of plans.
“Everybody understood,” she said. “A few parents had to make some adjustments but they were very understanding.”
While many teams will begin on Friday, a few are sticking with the old schedule.
And have a doctor’s note in case anybody asks.
“I’ve got a dentist appointment and couldn’t change it,” Gardiner coach Carmen Harbach said. The Bruins enter the season riding a 60-match win streak and having won the last two Class C state titles.
“We’ll go with practice on Monday.”
Stookey, known for being a coach of habit, will have practice on the new dates but will begin in earnest on Monday.
“We’ve got some kids in 4H showing animals at the fair,” said Stookey, whose teams have won nine Class B state championships in the last 11 years, including the last five in a row. During the state tournament in Bozeman, Stookey has her teams try to keep the same schedule and eat at the same restaurants.
“We don’t want to repeat things at practice. We’ve always worked with the kids involved with the fair and practice schedules. We know it’s a tough balance. So it’s easier to start with everybody on Monday.”
Despite the changes, Kufeld is going with the new schedule: tryouts on Friday and Saturday with the teams announced later that day.
“Everybody is making it work,” she said. “What really made me proud was the commitment of the players. It was hard to keep them out of the gym. We gave them August off and they still wanted to get into the weight room.
“There were some adjustments, but we got it done.”