COLUMN: Getting back to work

Last week was the dead week for Michigan high school athletes.

It is a week for them to take a short break before starting to get ready for the upcoming sports seasons. It was one last chance for them to regroup and recharge.

Starting this week, if you are driving around southwest Michigan, you will probably see all types of athletes on one of the practice fields or the courts as they participate in summer camps and open practices.

Although I think I am still recovering from the stretch run to the state finals by the Buchanan baseball and softball teams, seeing the kids back on the field starts to get my juices flowing. I begin thinking about getting back to covering our local student-athletes as they attempt to bring home division and league championships, district and regional titles, and maybe, just maybe, a state championship.

The other thing that gets me excited is getting to work with some new faces. Not that I did not like the ones I already worked with, but a new coach brings a new promise of new beginnings for their teams — teams like Niles football, which will hopefully turn things around under veteran Hall of Fame Coach Scot Shaw.

This year, I also get a chance to work with a pair of new athletic directors. I am looking forward to working with Matt Brawley at Niles and David Sidenbender at Brandywine because I have known both of these men for a long time. I believe they will do a tremendous job right off the bat. Both schools are fortunate enough to have them leading their athletic departments.

On the flip side of being excited about working with new people, I also enjoy the start of a new sports season because I renew acquaintances with veteran coaches and their assistants, as well as seeing parents of athletes I have gotten to know over the years.

I have an added treat this year as Southwestern Michigan College is bringing back cross country this fall. It has been 25 years since I last covered the Roadrunners, so just thinking about it makes my heart beat a bit faster and my palms start to sweat. This is going to be a great fall.

Later this week, I will be taking a closer look at SMC’s new coach, Zachary Sartori. I will give his background and how he plans to return the Roadrunners to their glory days. After talking to him recently, I am excited about what he brings to the table.

The start of the high school sports year is less than five weeks away. The second week of August, all six of our fall sports — cross country, football, girls golf, boys soccer, boys tennis and volleyball — will begin practicing that Monday. Five of the six fall sports can begin competition a week later. Football will have to wait until either Aug. 26 or Aug. 27 to kick off their 2021 season.

Get ready folks. Fall sports are on the way. As summer youth leagues wrap up their seasons between now and early August, it will not be long until we turn our attention back to high school athletics.

Speaking of summer youth sports leagues, we are looking for photos, along with information and a left-to-right identification for teams that won their local leagues or places at tournaments. Please send me your photos and information at the email address below.

 

Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at scott.novak@leaderpub.com.

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