Student athletes got into the first week of school and the first full week of practice, full of optimism for the 2014 fall sports season.
The first day of practice on Monday was just a slight change in routine for athletes who had attended summer camps and spent the past three weeks in the weight room or in conditioning. Under Sac-Joaquin Section rules, Monday also was the first day they could use equipment and balls for their respective sports.
The prevailing theme of the first week of practice was the knowledge that athletics, schoolwork and campus social life had converged, with the first games of the season just two weeks away.
Josh Carpenter, a senior tight end and linebacker on the Kimball High football team, said he and his teammates had spent the summer working out, but their energy was especially high Monday on the field at Don Nicholson Stadium.
“When school is back, it’s like a different effect,” he said “It makes you really excited, because you know that the games are about to start. Football is back.”
Kimball senior safety and running back Jacob Taloa added that the first week of school reminded athletes that they once again had competing priorities to keep in balance.
“It reminds us that we’re students first and then athletes, but once that bell rings, we turn back into football players and we’re back at it again,” he said.
At West High on Tuesday, the volleyball team was alternating between a mix of drills on the court and speed, strength and agility workouts similar to what they had been doing during the summer.
Senior Madeline McLauchlin said that the first week of school just reminded her team of how soon they would be in competition.
“I feel like the first week we have to go really hard to prepare. We’re in a harder league this year,” she said. “Girls are really motivated. At practice today, everybody was working hard, because we know we have to put in a lot of work and we don’t have that much time until the season starts.”
During Wednesday’s soccer practice at Tracy High, senior midfielder Angelo Alejandre said the first week was already competitive as players vied for starting positions on the Bulldog team and hoped that they wouldn’t get cut at the end of the week.
“There’s lots of competition, because everybody wants to make the team,” he said.
His team also spent the summer in practice and workouts, and now players have to balance soccer and school work.
“I’ve gotten used to it after the first three years,” Alejandre said. “At the beginning, it’s way shaky, especially if you’re a freshman or a sophomore.”
Nearby, on Tracy High’s north practice field, the freshman football team had its first day of practice in full pads Wednesday. It gave freshman football coach Jay Fishburn a chance to see which players could move effectively in all of their gear.
“Every year, they’re brand new. The first week is always a challenge,” he said, adding that players who were quick and agile in shorts and T-shirts often ended up struggling in full pads.
Fishburn said he wouldn’t have to cut any of his 53 players, but he expected that some would opt out before Aug. 23 as he and his assistant coaches run them through plays to get ready for the season.
“You don’t have a lot of time,” Fishburn said. “We scrimmage ourselves on Saturday, and the next Saturday (Aug. 23), we’re in Oakdale, and they don’t care if we’re ready or not. They’re going to come after us just like we’ll go after them.”
Contact Bob Brownne at email@example.com or 830-4227.