A majority of the high school sports year is now behind us. There have been thrilling football games, breath-taking autumn field hockey playoff contests, as well as dramatic wrestling and basketball matchups that have brought us through the cold months and up to the final phase of the prep school sports calendar - the seemingly more laid back springtime sports season.
Now, with all of the local high school sports teams competing outdoors, coaches and athletes are hoping that the Northern Virginia spring will cooperate with lots of sunshine and good temperatures. Usually around this area, spring time weather is fickle with cold temperatures and overcast skies, and even an occasional March snow dusting. Over the years, many early spring season high school sporting events have been played in temperatures anywhere from the 30's to 40's. Baseball is my favorite sport but I can recall covering countless high school games which seemed endless and to be moving at a snail's pace because of the bitter cold weather conditions.
Many of the area prep school teams will travel to warmer areas over the upcoming spring break, such as Florida or South Carolina. This will, quite likely, allow them to get in a full week of quality practice time and games without having to endure cold temperatures. By the time they return to Fairfax County, the weather here will hopefully have turned the corner and there will be blue skies and good reason to dress in short sleeves.
Of all the high school sports seasons, the spring time athletic calendar seems to whoosh by in a flash. Once teams have gotten through the rocky first month or so - often spending practice time indoors because of the poor weather - spring break has come and gone and they are in the heart of their respective schedules with the postseason only a few weeks away. The two or three weeks leading up to the playoffs are filled with lots of games, including make-ups from earlier season postponements, over a short period of time.
FOR SENIORS, this is a bitter-sweet time in their high school athletic careers because it marks the final stage of their playing careers as representatives of their home town schools. Whereas three-sport senior athletes can complete their fall and winter sports seasons realizing they still have their spring sports season ahead, there is no such extension following the spring season. Seniors, as the spring sports season begins winding down, have lots on their plates such as finishing their season and high school playing careers strongly, winding up their scholastic work, finalizing college plans for the following fall and, of course, preparing for graduation day when family members and friends will celebrate what has been accomplished over their four years of the high school life.
Many student-athletes will go on to play sports in college. Most will find that the college sports world is more challenging than high school as coaches teach and insist that their freshmen improve their dedication and all around play to a higher level. While athletics will remain fulfilling, perhaps even to a greater extent, at the college level, the demands of balancing time dedicated to their sports and excelling in the classroom will be difficult but at the same time quite rewarding as student-athletes prove to themselves what they are capable of accomplishing with hard work.
But there is really no rush to push things faster along than they are already moving for today's high school senior athletes. We're not even at Easter yet, so the bulk of the spring sports season is still ahead. There will be lots of game-winning soccer goals, brilliant catches in the outfield, and races won at the wire to fill up scrapbooks and a lifetime of sporting memories.
While the spring sports playoffs in the months ahead will be going up against all of the graduation parties, preparations for final exams, and summertime plans, student-athletes will, make no mistake, still be able to focus on the task ahead and end their respective seasons and careers with a bang. Seniors, realizing it's their final chance to shine as members of their high school team, will give it everything they've got over the final few weeks of the season and on into the playoffs. District, regional, and even state playoff games will be played in spectacular fashion as athletes and their teams look to leave a lasting mark on the school year and their playing careers.
For area sports fans who have enjoyed high school sports over the course of the past fall and winter seasons, this is no time to put a halt to attending high school sports events. There is a great spring season ahead as area school teams give it all they've got on their fields of play. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate. If it does, get ready for an exhilarating, fast-moving spring season of high school sports action.