EAST HELENA -- With winter sports starting on Dec. 7, the East Helena basketball teams are having to prepare for their second seasons in existence in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the Vigilantes are just in their second year of existence and everything is relatively new, Vigilantes head girls basketball coach Carson Bender said it doesn't really give them an advantage to adapt.
"I don't know if it benefits us or not, to be honest. It's pluses and minuses, but the kids have bee, super adaptable and flexible," said Bender. "They had to be last year, we were in a completely different building, we were running our high school in the middle school."
East Helena High School is effectively done, the gym is complete, and players will finally get a chance to play on their home court, much like their football counterparts did earlier this year. Though the COVID-19 pandemic does bring in some reservations for head boys basketball coach Ty Ridgeway, that doesn't mean he's any less excited.
"It's a great group of kids, and they work hard. They've kind of bought into to our system and our culture," said Ridgeway. "They're great kids. They're excited, which makes us excited."
As they prepare for this season, the Vigilantes will field sophomore and freshman teams on both the girls and the boys sides. With no upperclassmen to take the lead, both coaches know that some players are going to have to step into leadership roles earlier than expected.
"We're looking to develop leadership. We don't have seniors and juniors to do that," said Bender. "Some of these kids are being asked to kind of grow up a little bit earlier, or what's beyond a normal sophomore might be asked to do or beyond a normal freshman."
The Vigilantes will embark on their journey into their second season, albeit a wacky one, starting with tryouts on Dec. 7.