So what was it exactly about new coach Linda Saucedo that had the duo and the rest of Panthers excited about the upcoming season? “Coach was willing to do all the drills with us,” Fang said. “It wasn’t like she was sitting on the bench and telling us to practice, she was actually there practicing with us.” “I would like to have a .500 season,” she said. “I should say, we would like to have a winning season, but .500 is better than having a losing year.” Bugarin couldn’t agree more. Having played on three consecutive losing teams, the senior would like to experience just one winning season. “We haven’t won around here since 2001,” Bugarin said. “Everybody from that team is gone. It would be nice to get back to that point.” While getting back to the playoffs is important, Saucedo is well aware that her Panthers must learn how to play before they can learn how to compete. “I just decided to start all over with the team,” she said. “I have to let them know that it’s not going to be like last year around here. The girls are responsible for how they play. They have to learn how to play like a team.” Part of the instruction process was having the girls practice together. “Last year, we all practiced individually,” Fang said. “This year coach had us doing all the drills together so we can practice as a team.” While the practices have been longer and harder this year, nobody on the team seems to mind. “The practices have been like an hour longer but they seem to go faster,” Fang said. “Coach has been working on everything with us, from teaching how to play every position to learning how to communicate.” But Saucedo communicates much more to the team than instructions. The 26-year-old brings an intensity that was lacking — an intensity that only comes with winning. “Before we started the first practice, I realized that a lot of girls didn’t have much confidence,” Saucedo said. “It doesn’t make sense to me why they lost so many games. I think nobody ever told them that they were good.” But for as many pats on the back as the young coach can give her team, she realizes that confidence will come with victories. “This is such a talented group,” Saucedo said. “I know they can do better.” The Panthers first scrimmage of the season, a 27-25 loss to Montebello on Monday, put Rosemead in an unfamiliar position. “We almost won,” Bugarin said. “I know it was a scrimmage, but last year I think we only scored three points on them.” The loss also put the Panthers in another awkward position. “I think we’re starting to trust coach and trust that we can win,” Bugarin said. “I don’t think anyone thought that was possible.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 While the kudos sound small, Saucedo will take them as she tries to gain the trust of a veteran team that has seen other coaches come and go. “I want to get them to believe in me,” Saucedo said. “If I can get them to trust me then they will begin to trust in themselves. It’s going to be a learning process this whole year.” Part of the learning process came upon the coach’s acceptance of the job. “I guess they weren’t too used to winning,” Saucedo said of inheriting a team that had only won five matches in the last two years. “I intend to change that.” Yet, rather than making bold predictions of winning a Mission Valley League title or talking playoffs, the former Cal State Los Angeles player was more inclined to take baby steps. ROSEMEAD — The arrival of a another coach was nothing new to seniors Jessica Bugarin and Connie Fang. The three-year starters from Rosemead High School’s volleyball team had practiced and trained under two other coaches in their brief tenure.