We are still a couple weeks away from seeing the yellow buses rolling through neighborhood streets during the morning commute, but for area high school athletes the early-morning school routine jolted them awake with the first batch of official practices this week.
Gresham football was the first in the area to hit the field, not wasting a minute. The Gophers kicked off their 2019 season with a midnight practice with players tossing footballs through the darkness until the stadium lights flipped on at 12:01 a.m. to begin official drills.
Most other area teams for the fall sports season hit the ground running after sunrise with teammates getting reacquainted and rookies getting their first taste of the high school scene.
"One, it's about getting in shape, and two, it's a good opportunity to see what we have and to set the tone going forward," Centennial girls soccer coach Kelsey Birkhofer said.
"It's all about getting kids out playing the sport and representing their school," added Reynolds boys soccer coach Allan Berry.
The first few days of practice are the try-out phase, as players are sorted into varsity, junior varsity and freshman lineups.
"They are out here competing for spots, but it's also about teamwork and building that camaraderie," Berry said. "Once teams are established, the real work begins. For us, a lot of these guys have not played together before in an organized group, so that is our focus."
Unlike 10 years ago, the OSAA has adopted various safety measures that require mandated rest periods on Daily Double days, while also putting limits on physical contact and putting precautions in play for excessive heat and air quality.
"The beginning of the season is so important because it defines the success of the team," Birkhofer said. "It's the hardest part of the season and it pushes them together and gets that team bonding going."
The first day of competition is set for Thursday, Aug. 29.
View photos at davidball.smugmug.com.
This story is slated for our Friday, Aug. 23, print edition.
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