The 2019-20 high school sports season is just around the corner.
Yeah, I know it’s still July, but I’m serious — it really is almost here.
The first day of golf practice is next Monday. A week later, football and soccer tryouts begin. The first girls soccer game of the season between Tooele and Hillcrest is Aug. 6. The first football games of the season are a month from today.
It sure seems like the season starts earlier and earlier every year. And with the increased focus on offseason programs in all sports across the board, it’s hard to determine when the season really ends for the athletes, for that matter.
However, I also know that they wouldn’t dedicate themselves so fully to their sports if they didn’t care.
You see, high school sports is kind of a reflection of how the real world works Sure, merely being good at what you do can get you pretty far in life. But if you want to take the next step and be truly great, or, at very least, make sure that others don’t pass you by, you can’t do it without hard work.
Take the Stansbury football team, for instance. The Stallions can compete for region championships year in and year out based on talent alone. However, while I was out covering Stansbury’s American Legion baseball team this summer, a quick look over at the football field showed the Stallions taking the time to fine-tune their game under the blazing sun and learning the nuances of new coach Eric Alder’s style.
The kids who take the time out of their summer to strap on the shoulder pads and helmets and get to work on the gridiron could make the difference between merely making the state playoffs or making a deep run once they get there.
Likewise for the Tooele and Grantsville baseball teams. They’ll be contenders next spring with all the talent they have coming back. But Tooele’s top players are playing for the Tooele County Bears in American Legion play, and the underclassmen got valuable experience in Salt Lake County’s Varsity Prep league. Many of the players who played Varsity Prep will probably find themselves as junior-varsity starters and varsity backups. But now, Buffaloes coach Nolan Stouder has an idea of who he can turn to in certain situations, thanks to the game experience they gained this summer.
The same goes for Grantsville coach Aaron Perkins, who also has to contend with a limited pool of athletes that he has to share with the Cowboys’ football and basketball programs. With so many of his top players splitting time across several sports, he often had to turn to younger guys to fill his roster during the Varsity Prep season. But, you know what? It worked. In just over a month, those young players improved by leaps and bounds.
Now Perkins knows who he can put on the mound in certain situations, or who his top pinch-hitting options are.
It will be interesting to see where all this talent and hard work gets our local teams this coming school year.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. Some of his best memories are from summer road trips to various camps with his high school basketball team. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.