Rodd's Ramblings: There's fall sports in the air
August 18, 2023
For high school sports fans, fall is one of the most exciting times of the year.
Boys fall sports include football, cross country and soccer. Girls fall sports include volleyball, soccer, tennis, swimming and diving, and cross country. Many of the local smaller schools don't offer all these sports, but no matter how many sports are offered at an individual school, the excitement is building.
Teams were allowed to start practices on Monday this week, and anyone who was near a local high school field, court or gym could see or hear it.
In Cloquet, much like Esko a few years ago, excitement is riding high as the new Members Cooperative Credit Union Complex nears completion. Last week they started laying the new turf and the combined football/soccer field and tennis courts are taking shape before our eyes.
I had a few buddies send me pictures of the football team on the practice field, with trucks and workers in the background, as the team went through drills for the first time this season.
That scene is playing out at nearly every high school in Minnesota as the football players find out just where they stand in the pecking order on their teams. Tennis players are using this early season to work on fitness and shot placement, volleyball teams are doing the same, and swimmers are busy building cardio. Cross country runners are putting in their mileage. It's a time when athletes who put in the off-season work are rewarded for their efforts.
Lost amid all the excitement of students returning for the fall is the immense amount of work put in by coaches. Unlike years ago, coaches need to be involved in their players' off-season efforts. They have to take continuing coaching courses and tests through the Minnesota State High School League, they need to order and check in equipment all while trying to hold practices, break down film and make game plans. Anyone who thinks coaching is an easy job couldn't be further from the truth.
As a sports writer, I admit to loving all sports. I go watch tennis. I slip in to watch a couple of volleyball games every season. I am at as many soccer games for both boys and girls as I can possibly get to, and I do the announcing for Cloquet football games. Unfortunately, because of the times at which swimming and cross country take place, I am usually not able to go and watch those events, but I am a fan all the same.
High school football to me is almost magical. Played under the lights on Friday nights, the smell of burgers, brats and hot dogs wafts through the air, bands are playing and the stands are full at nearly every field across the state. All of that adds up to an ambiance that is hard to beat.
I talk with coaches year-round for this job, so I get a chance to gauge excitement when new seasons kick off, but it seems like the fall sports season really carries a bit more excitement. Perhaps the reason for the excitement is because a new school year is just starting and the anticipation is running high on many levels.
I also think the emergence of fall sports means everything is starting over on a level playing field. No one knows who will win the big game in whatever sport is being played, because right now no team has played and nobody knows how things will shake out.
For those of you who haven't gone to a game, a meet or a match, I encourage you to get out and support your local prep athletes this fall. I also encourage you to go to a sports event that you may have not seen before. You may find out that you enjoy it.