By our high standards up here in the Northern Westchester/Putnam County region, the 2018-19 varsity high school sports season was not the banner campaign we’re accustomed to in this neck of the woods, if, indeed, the measuring stick is sectional, regional and state championships. Sure we had some great runs from the tenacious Somers boys’ soccer club, the awe-inspiring Lakeland field hockey society and baseball team, the record-setting Haldane football unit, the upstart Panas softball team and the stupefying Ossining girls’ hoops program (among others), but by my count, we were a tad light this year, that’s all.
After 30 years covering the Section 1 circuit, I do, admittedly, hold our student athletes to a very high standard because that’s what they’ve delivered over much of the last three decades. Doesn’t mean we didn’t give it everything we had, because I saw with my own two eyes that we did indeed leave it on the field. Titles were just tougher to come by this year, which means there’s work to do.
Because I’m used to doing a heck of a lot more running around, which I don’t mind at all, when we’re securing sectionals and hunting regional titles in the state tournaments. There just wasn’t as much hunting this season, which means we gotta do better in 2019-20, gang. Championships are attained in-season, but they are woven in the off-season… including sizzling summer sessions! Don’t spend the better part of the summer on your iPhone posting selfies while bingeing on Carvel… at least wait until you’ve worked your skill sets, run your laps on the track, crushed it in the weight room and swam a couple dozen laps to cool down. Then have at it!
So grab your gal pals, text your boys, do what you do but gather up and work on improving your skills, strength and stamina this summer. Don’t wait for your coaches to assemble the masses in August. Assemble, instead, in mass for captain’s practices and mini training sessions with like-minded souls, or you’ll be the one trailing the pack and wondering what happened when your starting spot went bye-bye because a younger, sleeker model, who worked harder, blew past you.
“The days of sitting around all summer and doing nothing are long gone,” Ossining Coach Dan Ricci said from Cape May where the 2019 NYS champion Pride were upping the ante. “If you’re not working hard, someone else who is will pass you by! With how competitive athletics have become, especially those trying to play at the next level, it goes without saying that student athletes need to continue to work on their skills and physical conditioning in the off-season, and that includes summers.”
I’m not saying you can’t enjoy your vacations. God knows most student athletes have earned a well-planned week or two away from the rigors… a chance to rest, replenish the system and enjoy time with family and friends (before camps officially re-open), but I need a few more championship road trips next year and I don’t see that happening if we’re sitting poolside increasing our waistlines while hoisting Bud Lights all summer (hello, pot, have you seen the kettle?).
Summer is a time for exploring new things, for making new friends, for relaxing. It’s a time when students get a two to three month break from the constant pressure of school and homework, allowing them to pursue new interests and pick up old hobbies, become more creative and expand their social horizons, which sometimes leads to dubious deeds.
As impressionable teen-agers, I can’t tell you not to dabble with alcohol (that’s your parents’ primary responsibility), but I can assure you that it’s just as much fun being together with your friends without alcohol as it is with it, and it hurts twice as much the next day when the bugle blows and reveille plays at 7 a.m. So make the right choices and like the Roman poet Horace said “Carpe Diem”, my friends…
So, we’ve got a couple of family vacations planned, including a Bermuda cruise and our annual trek to LBI, perhaps my favorite place on earth. But before we bust our moves I’ve got pages to fill this summer, so we turn to the younger generation in the hopes of checking out the future and giving youngins their moment in the sun. In that vein, The Northern Westchester/Putnam Examiner wants to feature the athletic exploits of your children this summer, so please feel free to email email@example.com with any photos and details from your travel baseball/softball games and lax tournaments this summer. Team shots with trophies, that play at the plate or the pile-up on the mound all make for unforgettable moments we hope you’ll share with us each and every week, along with a brief recap of the events leading up. Greater Hudson Valley Baseball League action/recaps are welcome, so please hit us up every week with a happy recap…
P.S. please don’t be that kid we read about every year that got behind the wheel during graduation celebrations and screwed up the lives of your loved ones with a death-defying choice to drive under the influence #Uber.
Ray has 33 years experience covering and photographing local sports in Westchester and Putnam counties, including everything from Little League/Travel Baseball to varsity high school prep sports and collegiate coverage. He has been a sports editor at Examiner Media since its inception in 2007.