Happy New Year!

The first day of high school practices arrived last week, marking another new year in the truest sense. For any of us connected with education or athletics, the new cycle begins on the first Monday of August with the beginning of golf practice. In the subsequent days, football, cross-country, field hockey, volleyball, cheering and marching band follow suit. These activities kick off the excitement of another school year, where anything and everything is possible.

Athletes, coaches and fans are different in August than they are in June. The fatigue felt just a couple months ago has been replaced with an optimism that springs eternal this time of year. At the high school and college level, every school team is currently undefeated. The arrival of the new coach or phenom that has just transferred in gives us all hope that this will be the year for our team or our school. The coaches have been preparing a game plan throughout the off-season and student-athletes have been diligently following their workout regimen in the hope that they may gain that tiny advantage that will finally put them over the top this season.

Starting over is rarely possible. Yesterday’s mistakes and shortcomings continue to dog us mightily. As we start a new school year, though, all things become new again. Everything from our clothes to our attitudes suggest that we are about to embark on something that will certainly be new and exciting.

At Thomas Dale, Vic Williams’ legacy lives on just as we eagerly anticipate the arrival of the Kevin Tucker era. New, but familiar, coaches are in place in cross-country and golf, and there is little reason to anticipate anything but the success that has come to be expected from the Knights. New kids will step up to replace the seemingly irreplaceable and life goes on, even as the youthful Coach Jaeckel becomes a veteran on Lee Batten’s staff.

The glass is more than half full at Dale, but also at Meadowbrook, Bird, Matoaca and Community high schools. In a few weeks, practices will also start at Falling Creek, Salem Church, Elizabeth Davis, Carver and Matoaca middle schools. The excitement in these buildings will be at least comparable, as the new crop of sixth graders will begin to experience what interscholastic sports are all about.

My own days are filled with this excitement, as my very young golf team has suddenly reached the point of maturity that has come through both the passage of time and playing experience. Suddenly, four seniors and four juniors have emerged as the go-to guys on our team. Not to worry, though, as Matt Padgett and Zachary Ginn have arrived as freshmen, immediately putting pressure on Michael Romig, Tyler Hancock, Jason Wells, Will Brown, Patrick Johnson, Jack Field, Tyler Broach and Patrick Hermans to perform at the highest level. Athletes know that the adage, “What have you done for me lately?” is so very true.

Here’s wishing all of our readers the happiest of new years. To our kids and their outstanding leaders, we hope the 2010-2011 school year will bring you both joy and satisfaction. Take advantage of the clean slate that is before you and bring it on home.

Fore!

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