WARRENSBURG - The many banners hanging high on the walls of the Warrensburg High School gymnasium and the gleaming trophies in the gym lobby bear silent witness to a deep local tradition.
Regardless of the specific year, Warrensburg High can be counted on to produce either a championship field hockey team, or a highly competitive one.
Annually, a group of stellar field hockey players graduate from Warrensburg, and younger players advance to take their place, with a tough challenge ahead of them - whether it's battling for supremacy in the talented Adirondack League and Section II, or merely living up to the tradition represented by those dozens of banners and trophies.
Warrensburg's field hockey program is simply legendary in the league, as the Burghers have set a standard over the years that few schools even approach. For decades, they've routinely won regional, sectional and Adirondack League championships. In 2001, the team fought all the way to the State Championship finals; and two years ago, they won the Adirondack League and Class C Section II championships.
That's not all. This past year, one of the team's stars, Abby Roth, received a scholarship to play Division I field hockey, a relatively rare accomplishment regionally.
Part of the annual tradition is for the team to adopt a nickname that captures their character. Last year's squad was called "Bad to the Bone," and this year's is "Hurricane," which not only represents the level of energy the group seeks to approach in their play, but also speaks of this year's "clean sweep" of the substantially new squad.
Gone are a core group that were on the stellar prior squads - Juliette Needham, Bianca Fuller, Hayley Corriea, Holly Gheen, Taylor and Whitney Galusha, Drew Lamy, Rachel Simkins, Kate Taddeo and Abby Roth - and the new roster has to create its own legacy, Bump said. Four of the 2009 graduates were among those on the New York state finalist squad - Roth, Lamy and the two Galushas.
No less than 11 of the 12 Burgher starters of the 2009 team graduated, and this year, players will need to step up and take the place of those talented athletes, Bump said.
"A hurricane clears things out, allowing for a brand-new start," Bump said. "We've got a total rebuild ahead from the bottom up - Anybody and everybody has the opportunity to find the All-Stars within themselves."
Key elements of this rebuilding process are junior Montana Sheridan, who Bump said provides a vital spark, senior goalie Kayce Duell, and the three captains, Isabella Szabo, Kate Kuklinski and Molly-Kate Webster.
They'll be assisted in the effort by a triple wild card - the return of three players who took a year off last year - seniors Lindsey Wood, Kelsey Williams and junior Makayla Hill.
Bump said the 2010 squad, which has already demonstrated considerable improvement during the first several days of practice, appears to have the determination to live up to the Burgher legacy.
"If the players all discover their strengths and weaknesses and work on them, they can achieve any goal they seek," she said. "They have an opportunity for a dream season."
During a recent practic, Bump yelled instructions to the players as they set off for a half-mile run in the early morning fog.
"Pair off and talk as you run - find out three things you didn't know before about your partner," she said.
Bump watched them disappear into the grey mist, and said the players were developing team chemistry.
"If they play like their chattering now, we'll go far this year," she said.
Warrensburg Central School
2010 Varsity Field Hockey schedule
Sept. 2 Queensbury Away 10:00 a.m.
Sept. 8 Schuylerville Home 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 10 WCS tourney Home 4:00 p.m.
Sept. 11 WCS tourney Home 10:30 a.m.
Sept. 15 Lake George Home 4:00 p.m. Sept. 17 Corinth Home 4:00 p.m.
Sept. 20 Hoosick Falls Away 4:00 p.m.
Sept. 22 North Warren Away 4:00 p.m.
Sept. 24 Johnsburg Home 4:00 p.m.
Sept. 29 Salem Home 4:30 p.m.
Oct. 1 Lake George Away 4:00 p.m.
Oct. 4 Greenwich Away 4:30 p.m.
Oct. 6 Corinth Away 4:00 p.m.
Oct. 8 North Warren Home 4:00 p.m.
Oct. 13 Johnsburg Away 4:00 p.m.
Oct. 15 Salem Dome 7:00 p.m.
Oct. 18 Granville Away 4:30 p.m.