Monday is the First Day of School — for sports
Today is the First Day of School.
No, parents, don’t get up in arms that you didn’t get the kids to their bus stops. Bus drivers, no, you didn’t screw up by sleeping late.
Teachers, don’t think you’re going to be in trouble for not showing up to your jobs.
But in reality, high schools around the area aren’t the ghost towns today that they were for the last two months or so. It’s Monday, August 13, the designated day statewide for the first day of high school fall sports practices.
Yes, this is really the First Day of School in our book. The school year’s sports season is underway. Weekday beach days are no more for student athletes all over the area.
The 2018-19 high school sports season is officially on the clock, basically just under two months from when the 2017-18 season ended.
Two months? Has it been that long since we said good-bye to last season with the Father’s Day weekend Heptathalon-Decathalon at Nashua High School South’s Fran Tate track? Funny how two monhts from, say, mid-January to-mid March don’t go by that quickly.
July is really the only month the high schools aren’t really in play. Most athletic directors will disappear during that time and re-appear the end of the month or early August, as there’s a lot of work to be done – student athlete impact (concussion) testing, paperwork, etc. But if you follow twitter, etc., there’s been a lot of activity already. During the summer there’s 7-on-7 leagues for high school football players, and as the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association has relaxed off-season contact rules (basically teams can gather informally for workouts in the off-season period leading up to the start of a sports season as long as its open to all students), a lot of programs have been working out here and there and tweet out their workout times, etc.
On the other hand, football has been a victim of obvious safety reform, something we’ll get into more in a day or two. Normally, by this time, teams will have held a plethora of practices with double sessions starting, say, last Wednesday. But the NHIAA, citing studies, etc., cut football back to starting on the same day as the other sports that it used to get a big head start on. The coaches weren’t thrilled, obviously, and likely will lose at least one scrimmage in the process.
But the season is underway. Two new head football coaches in the area officially debut today, Bishop Guertin’s John Trisciani and Campbell’s Glenn Costello.
There’s a few new soccer coaches beginning their tenures this fall, but an interesting development has taken place at Campbell. Poor Jarod Mills, the Cougar athletic director. He may be running the first couple of practices until he can secure a new boys soccer coach, as for the second time in six months, a prospective coach looked like he or she would be all set for the position and then the eventual hire fell through. It happened in baseball and now soccer.
“Different circumstances,” said Mills, who did hire former Londonderry boys JV coach Kevin Brassard as the Cougars’ new girls soccer coach, “but it stinks.” But Mills, who was pursuing a couple of leads, said not to worry, the players will get their practices in and things will proceed as usual even in the absence of an official head coach.
Bishop Guertin avoided that fate when it finally hired Valdamir Roque just last week. There are also a few JV jobs still needing to be filled. Qualified coaches aren’t exactly growing on trees anymore, and athletic directors will be the first ones to tell you that.
The day/week will also be the debut of new Nashua North girls volleyball coach Nicole Fitzgibbons. When practice begins tonight around 5:30, it will be the first time ever that Titan players won’t be greeted by longtime head man John Connolly, who stepped down in the off-season presumably for health reasons.
It could be an interesting fall. In football, Alvirne moves down to Division II, joining fellow locals Milford, Hollis Brookline, and Souhegan. Merrimack takes the Broncos’s spot in the West Conference, so the Tomahawks will again play the Nashuas and Guertin.
In another big change, Dan Wyborney has begun his new job as the Souhegan Athletic Director, taking over for the retired Dick Miller. But he’ll remain coaching varsity girls soccer; after all, he guided the Sabers to the Division II finals in his first season.
What’s ahead the next few months? Will Hollis Brookline continue its dynasty and get a girls volleyball fourpeat? Will Campbell repeat in Division III football? Will a Nashua team get into the Division I Final Four? Can the Nashua South boys and girls soccer teams take the next step from a year ago and be forces in Division I?
The answers to those questions and many more begin to be formulated today.
School’s not out for summer any more.
Tom King can be reached at 594-1251, or@Telegraph_TomK.firstname.lastname@example.org