It’s becoming increasingly obvious that there is no offseason in high school sports anymore.
Why else would we be talking about practice (apologies to the great Allen Iverson) in July?
On some level, it makes sense. Golf practice got started earlier this week, and the season ends in early October. Would you want to try to play the state tournament closer to, say, Halloween? It might work if you played the state tournament in St. George or Moab every year, but not most other places in the state. It could be 80 degrees or 30 degrees. The same goes for the Class 1A baseball tournament, set to take place in Spanish Fork around the same time, as well as the girls tennis tournament at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City. Any later in the year and it would just be asking for trouble (in the case of the state tennis tournament, it seems inevitable that it will be moved indoors).
Football, soccer and tennis start next week, and volleyball starts the week after. As mentioned above, tennis has an early state tournament (the end of September). Football only has one game a week. Soccer ends on Oct. 20, hopefully before local pitches become skating rinks, and volleyball is the weekend before Halloween. Again, when you look at it that way, starting practice early makes sense.
But a lot of these kids never get a break. Some of the football players were baseball players last spring, and went straight from the state tournament into summer league games as well as 7-on-7 football camps and now are getting ready for two-a-days.
Even some coaches didn’t get much of a break. I was out at Oquirrh Hills Golf Course on Wednesday morning observing Grantsville’s golf team, when assistant coach Aaron Perkins came up to chat for a bit. Perkins, of course, is the head coach for the Cowboys’ state championship baseball team, as well as its summer-league counterpart. That means he’s been coaching pretty much since February. I’m sure he found the time to take a break somewhere along the line, but not as much as he would have otherwise.
But that’s what you have to do in the modern world of high-school sports. If you’re not constantly going to camps and playing in summer leagues to hone your craft, you’re not going to get better, and everyone else around you will. That spells disaster once the games start for real. And in the competitive, win-or-else world that high school sports exist in these days, you can’t afford to take a break.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. Watching Grantsville practice on Wednesday served as a reminder of how bad his own golf game really is. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.