The Gainesville Lady Leopards held their first practice of the season Thursday, Aug. 1 and even though the two-a-day practices were intentionally tough, head coach Tobin Thurman said he was encouraged by the enthusiasm the athletes showed.

“We’re really excited about the girls that came out,” Thurman said. “We had a really good group of kids and we’re about 35-36 athletes deep at the moment. We have a couple girls that are going to come out that are transferring from Oklahoma. So we’re excited to see what they are capable of. But all in all, the girls were very aggressive, very energetic. They’re excited about being out there. Even though they were working hard and getting put through the wringer, they were really, really doing a good job.”

Thurman said he and the coaching staff are taking a fresh approach to coaching this season, starting with their evaluation process.

“We’re looking at some different things and trying to evaluate them a little bit different so we can put our best product out there on the court,” Thurman said. “This year we’re going through and meeting with each individual athlete and talking to them about what their strengths are and looking at it from that perspective. We’re really trying to give them a little bit more feedback on things that they are doing really well and need to work on. We’ll look at how they pass ball, how they set the ball, how they hit the ball and how they serve the ball.”

The two-a-day practice are broken up into several segments with the focus being on conditioning and instruction.

“We’re doing lifting and conditioning and agility as part of our first phase during our first session, so we’re really trying to hit that hard,” Thurman said. “They’re a little bit tired.”

Despite their tough conditioning, it didn’t stop the team from showing up an hour early for practice the next day.

The Lady Leopards had their first game of the season Tuesday, Aug. 6, against Valley View.

Thurman said even though it is early in the season, the emphasis for the first few games of the season is to remain vigilant mid-game.

“We’re really kind of looking at our rotations and kind of breaking those down to see how they can adjust,” Thurman said. “How are we rotating? How are we transitioning? Can they battle back if we’re a few points down? Can we push points when we’re up and not let teams come back in?”

Patrick Hayslip can be reached at or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip