It seems like only yesterday I was bidding farewell to the spring season. Summer was finally here, and I was looking forward to the calm before the storm — those three long hot months when school is out of session.
But for the first time in almost six years, that lull I’ve come to know, and appreciate at times, didn’t fully register.
After watching Lakewood Ranch gallop into the state semifinals in both baseball and softball, it was only a matter of weeks before the school year was over and the Manatee County Cup and Little League All-Star seasons got under way.
Inclement weather played havoc on this summer’s Little League schedules, as players, coaches, fans and myself traveled to the ballpark only to see the games postponed for another day.
While my nights were spent dodging fastballs and raindrops at the ballpark, my days were spent meeting with new coaches, learning about new athletic programs and watching athletes achieve unprecedented success.
The Little League All-Stars seasons came to an end in mid-July, just a few weeks before things would really begin to heat up.
After spending the summer working on strength and conditioning, Braden River, Lakewood Ranch and The Out-of-Door Academy football teams held their first official football practices Aug. 6, with the remainder of the Pirates, Mustangs and Thunder fall sports teams either having held their first official practices of the season this past week or preparing to over the next week.
School starts Monday and the Preseason Kickoff Classics are slated for Friday, Aug. 24, signaling the official start of the fall season.
And so it begins. It’s the time of year when the high schools become my second home, and you need a magnifying glass to decipher the pages of my planner.
But with so many new coaches and athletes to get to know over the next few months, it’s going to be an adventurous fall season.
Let the games begin.