On Wednesday morning, the 2013-14 IHSA sports season “officially” got underway. While many of the athletes in fall sports have already been practicing for the upcoming season, Aug. 14 was first warning bell that prep competition was imminent.
Ready or not.
“We’re all excited to be back. It’s kind of funny. I always get here early the first day of practice and open up the doors and we had kids coming in at 7:15 to sit in the locker room,” Morris football coach Alan Thorson said. “As a coach, you like to see that.”
Morris golf coach Matt Lafond said that he can hardly believe that summer is over and that the fall season is actually at hand.
“What summer? It seems like we were just having the banquet from last year,” he said. “I can’t believe it is already this time. I’ve been waiting for it all summer. There is excitement. We’re going to have some new guys coming in and there will also be a few new faces as far as the upper levels go. It’s good to see a good turnout with the guys and it’s good to have Hayley coming back.”
Morris cross country coach Joe Blumberg said that there is a wonder that comes with coaching at the start of a new school year.
“I believe it’s exciting for our athletes to start to visualize a top five, top seven, or attempt to gauge what kind of success we can have. They enjoy hearing about new invites, want to find out the training plan, and get to developing new team traditions,” he said. “It’s exciting as a coach to see who has put the work in during the offseason, to take a look at the potential of the incoming freshmen and new runners, and get back to trying to motivate, guide, and lead our student-athletes.”
One of the biggest motivating factors at this time of the year is facing other teams during the school year again.
“During the offseason, in their minds, competition is so far in the future, sometimes young athletes don’t understand or see why they are doing what they are doing,” Blumberg said. “Today (Wednesday), we can look at them and say, ‘We are racing in two weeks.’ And it’s always great to watch the reactions – some can’t wait, knowing they did what they needed to do over the summer, while others cringe, knowing they aren’t in the shape they need to be in. And the pain of regret is difficult to deal with.”
Blumberg also said that one of the things that makes coaching a fall sport difficult is wading through the paperwork that accompanies the onset of the school year.
“Fall sports can be frustrating because of the paperwork – physicals, insurance waivers, IHSA forms. I’d love to be able to show up and run. But it isn’t that way anymore,” he said. “The staff at MCHS does a great job to make the process as easy as possible, but invariably, you have to tell some eager runner he or she cannot participate day one, and that’s frustrating for all involved. But it also teaches our athletes about responsibility, deadlines, and consequences ... You just generally don’t want to deal with those lessons day one.”
With the ups and downs of the season, is there a true air of excitement or is it more of an uh-oh situation, or what?
“It’s all of the above,” Lafond said. “We have big shoes to fill from last year. We do have a couple of guys returning who we have high expectations for. But there is a lot of young guys on this team and there are a lot of roles to fill.”
Ready or not.