Tuesday Aug 03 2010
Are you ready for some football?
By: Dave Krizman Journal Sports Columnist
This morning, around 8 a.m., several hundred football players for each of the local high schools will begin their 2010 seasons. Bear River, Colfax, Del Oro, Foresthill, and Placer athletes will follow their respective coaches in a series of warm-ups. The energy generated by the athletes of these five high schools along with every other high school in the Sac-Joaquin Sectioncould light up a city for a week. There is something remarkably exciting about the first day of practice. The coaches walk with an additional spring in their steps. The players bark out warm-up drill cadence with a deeper than normal growl. On the first day of practice, all things are possible. Undefeated seasons… victories over one’s arch-rival… bone-crunching hits… long touchdown runs… the thrill of wearing the uniform… they’re all there. Summer ball can be long and tedious. While extremely important, there is no proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. It is a long series of evening practices, and 7-on-7 passing scrimmages against other schools. However, the first day of practice brings every teammate onto the field at the same time. For the freshman, there is a sense of excitement seasoned with a bit of apprehension. The annual internal monologue often includes questions such as… “How will I respond to the first day of contact? Will my football gear fit? Will I be able to survive the first few days of hell week? Will I get to play the position I want to play? Am I strong enough? Am I fast enough? Am I tough enough? Will I be accepted by my teammates?” These are the internal struggles a freshman must wrestle with. For the varsity and JV football players, there is the anticipation of being part of a team again. One cannot underestimate the importance of this bonding experience. There is a powerful, overwhelming sense of belonging when one is part of a team. Your individuality is set aside and you become something much, much bigger. You become a team. There is the excitement of knowing that the games will be played on Friday nights in front of large crowds. The drills are familiar. The coaches are familiar. All the hours spent in the weight room and on the field are about to be rewarded. Wisely, the Sac-Joaquin Section controls the pace of practice for the first week. Wednesday through Friday, all schools are limited to mandatory conditioning. This allows the players to acclimatize to the heat that is so common in early August. Water is made readily available for all athletes. Coaches in the Placer Union High School District have all been thoroughly in-serviced on the importance of proper hydration. For those who played football in the 1960s and 1970s, one may recall that practicing for hours in the heat without water was proof that you were a man. Fortunately, those archaic days are long gone. The athlete’s best interest is central to all decisions made. Beginning Monday, Aug. 9, players will be allowed to wear helmets, again allowing them to adjust to the heat. Finally, on Tuesday full pads will be allowed. And another fabulous season of high school football will begin.