Fall practice began for area athletes (Clockwise from top left) Northview linemen work on drills while (inset) D-backs work on pass breakups. Brianne Arvin sets a ball while Kyler Clark digs a ball. Adam and Cole Schroer run during practice for Clay City.
Around the state, official practices began for high school athletes competing in fall sports.
At Northview High School, football players began two-a-day practices with their 7 a.m. meeting on Monday morning and worked long into the hot afternoon sun. Expectations will be high this season after completing a 9-2 year in 2004, the best record in school history.
Spirits are high as players finally get to test their talents on the field and outside of the weight room and coaches get to see what the hard work has wrought.
"This is really the part that you like because you get the chance to coach," commented head coach George Gettle. "It's a real joy and the fun is to be out on the field, getting to work with the kids. "Opening Day is a fun day."
The Knights will be charged with replacing a group of talented seniors that leaves a wealth of starting spots available for those who excel over these two weeks of preseason practices.
"We've got a lot of spots open with no one in particular filling them this year," commented Gettle. "We have a lot of kids here who need to get mentally tough. These two weeks are probably as important as the first week that I came here to Northview."
The Northview football program has come a long way in Gettle's three year tenure at the helm. Not only have the amount of players in the program increased, the Knights have improved from 1-9 the year before Gettle's arrival, to records of 4-6, 5-5 and finally, 9-2 with a sectional victory last year.
According to Gettle, the numbers are about where they should be this year.
"Our varsity numbers are just a little down with about 63-64 players and with about 32-35 freshmen we'll have around 100 players from ninth to twelfth grade. We're still way up over where we used to be. This should be an interesting two weeks. The team that you see in week one will be drastically different than the one that takes the field in week 10.
One factor that Gettle believes will be a key this year is that for the first time since his arrival, he will have the same staff as the year before.
"We've got the same staff as last year which is really important because we won't have to coach coaches this year. We can focus on the kids and improving the team."
Inside Northview's gym, coach Laura Rahn returns a very talented group of players from last year's squad and many of her players have been on the court nearly since the end of last prep season.
"A lot of our players have been playing from January to June, basically the last 10 months" commented Rahn.
The Knights have been bolstered, as have many area high school teams, by having players on AAU squads, including the Terre Haute-based Cross Roads of America team (COA).
Northview and North Clay had 14 players on either a 16-and-under squad or 18-and-under team with COA while Clay City's Ashley McCullough competed on an 16-and-under squad with Northview's Lottie King, Lindsay Thomas and Kaley Huffman.
The experience of playing in state-wide and in some cases, national tournaments is invaluable according to Rahn.
"(AAU competition) helps immensely, these kids are already in volleyball shape and in a volleyball mindset. Not only does it help their volleyball IQ, but it helps because they really understand the new plays we teach them."
The Knights will get their season started with their 'bubble gum' game featuring intrasquad scrimmages leading up to a Thursday, August 11 scrimmage with Martinsville at 1 p.m.
Also kicking off their practice schedule is Northview's cross country team that got geared up at 8 a.m. on Monday while the girls golf team started their regular season with back-to-back tourneys at Brebeuf on Monday and a tourney today at Valparaiso.
Over at Clay City, the Eels officially began cross country practice on Monday night along with volleyball.
Coach Keith Jones had a solid returning contingent at practice with others expected to return from vacation over the next week along with some new members to the Clay City squad.
Fall sports athletes will kick the new season into full gear over the next couple weeks leading up to the beginning of school and the full sports season.