The winter that has been longer than any in recent memory is gradually being replaced by the sure signs of spring; daylight-saving time is just around the corner, the beauty of the crocus and daffodil is ever more evident, a back yard full of robins seems to have materialized out of nowhere and, of course, there is the crack (or ping?) of the bat.
Although basketball has become the world’s game, the fact remains that Dr. Naismith developed the game simply as a diversion. He was looking for something that would keep young people relatively active until they could get back outside in the spring. As it was then, sports are still intended to be contested out of doors.
Last week in high schools across the country, tryouts and practices began for spring sports. In the Chester area, track and field, baseball, softball, soccer, tennis and lacrosse teams are being formed. Student participation is at its highest level in the spring, with a typical high school having 300 or more student athletes participating on the varsity or junior varsity level. Another 100-plus are active at the middle school level, while countless others are involved on recreation or club league teams. YMCA training team participants are thankfully welcoming more temperate conditions, bicycles are reappearing and golf courses are again seeing requests for tee times. The landscape is abuzz with the serious athlete, the weekend warrior and kids seeking fun in the sun. Spring is indeed the season when we join the dogwoods in coming back to life.
Following up on my last column, I invite you to visit your local school on virtually any afternoon over the next 10 weeks or so. You will see tremendous value in what is going on with these young athletes. Your presence will be appreciated more than you will ever know. In these troubling economic times, I invite your willing participation in a team fundraiser that may make the difference in the actual survival of the team. There are also countless opportunities to volunteer, possibly with a high school booster group. And, I know of more than a few track coaches who would be deeply indebted to you in exchange for a few hours at a home meet this season. No experience is necessary.
Spring is also the perfect opportunity for all of us to take stock of our own bodies. Over the next eight or nine months, it becomes easier to take care of fitness needs. With additional daylight hours both before and after work, opportunities to get out and walk and meet our neighbors are more plentiful. Walking clubs are active in virtually every neighborhood and newcomers are generally more than welcomed. I encourage you to get out your bike, park at the far reaches of the lot, walk nine holes or sign up for a fitness class … you’ll be glad you did!
See you outside.