Elise Zimmerman was determined to bring girls lacrosse to Durango.
She asked around. Nobody knew anything.
She called Parks and Recreation. There was no pre-existing interest.
She held tryouts for a club team. Not a soul showed up.
Determination alone didn't get her a team. But it did earn her a phone call from DHS Athletic Director Sheldon Keresey, who told her Durango was making girls and boys lacrosse (lax) into a sponsored sport through the Colorado High School Activities Association, and he wanted Zimmerman to build his squad.
"It's something that I love to do, and I'm excited about bringing it to this area," said Zimmerman, who has played lacrosse since she was in seventh grade.
The three-year Colorado State University player teamed with coach Jenni Darlow, who also had expressed a desire to teach youth lacrosse, and they held their first official tryouts.
The trials didn't end the tribulations, however.
"We had some interest from the very beginning, but we were worried about making the numbers," Darlow said.
"At first, a lot of girls (at DHS) didn't know anything about the sport," Zimmerman said. "Only five or six girls showed interest when the program was first announced, but more and more girls started coming to the preseason practices."
Zimmerman said their efforts were bolstered by announcements from the athletic department, although it was difficult for lacrosse to compete for spring athletes with soccer, track, tennis and golf.
As a new CHSAA program, the team also is expected to fund itself, meaning the girls had to seek corporate sponsorships and fund-raising opportunities.
Despite all the obstacles, the roster eventually grew to 17, and the Demons were ready to take the field.
Zimmerman stepped down as head coach to prepare for her pending marriage, handing her job to Darlow because she wouldn't be able to attend all the team's games. Zimmerman still works as an assistant.
Playing in a first-year division in which most clubs have no more than a year or two of club-level experience, Darlow doesn't think her team will be outmatched, even though the Demons have zero experience between them.
"Our girls are such great athletes," Darlow said. "They should be competitive in all their games this season."
The girls debuted their program with a tripleheader last Saturday, losing all three at the Grand Junction Tournament, but by progressively lesser margins.
Hannah Rossi scored four goals Saturday, while goalie Taylor Moore stopped 35 shots over the three games, making 15 saves in the Demons' 3-2 loss in the finale against Battle Mountain.
"For their first games ever, they did so amazing," Zimmerman said. "They're so enthusiastic about the sport."
Their most lopsided loss was their first - 11-1 to Grand Junction - and the Demons will get a chance at redemption in today's 4 p.m. home opener at DHS Stadium.
"The girls are talking about it," Darlow said. "I think the game will be completely different."
"We're really excited for our home season to start," she said. "It's more convenient for students and teachers to come out, and especially for a brand-new sport, that's important."
Durango will host Grand Junction again at 11 a.m. Saturday, its second of six home games this season.
The season is only 11 games long and ends April 25.
The winner of the six-team conference will face off against the state's 16th-seeded team for the final spot in CHSAA postseason play.