A taste of fall is in the air this week at Hood River Valley High School.
The cool breeze through the pines. The freshly cut grass. The echo of helmets colliding on the gridiron. The smell of fresh pigskin.
Hard to believe that football season is upon us, along with the soccer, volleyball and cross-country seasons.
HRV began its fall sports frenzy on Monday with an annual installment of “daily doubles” — two-a-day practices that are designed to get players in shape and familiar with the system, while determining who will make up the varsity and JV rosters.
Daily doubles also give coaches a chance to see what their players have been working on over the summer.
“We’re mostly just getting back to basics this week,” said first-year head volleyball coach Molly Kissinger. “We’re doing a lot of physical testing and skills testing, and hope to know what our teams (varsity, JV, freshman) will be by Friday.”
Other HRV coaches agree that getting back into shape needs to be the primary focus in the early season, but it’s equally important for players to reestablish the mental game.
“The little things,” head football coach Mitch Sanders preached to his players at Monday’s practice. “That’s what separates playoff teams from non-playoff teams.”
Most players are willing to do the little things, but it could take them a couple days to find a rhythm.
“It’s a frame of mind,” said sophomore quarterback Dennis Methvin, who will compete for the backup job during the next week of practice. “It’s kind of hard for the first couple days, but then you get used to it. Probably the hardest part for me is getting out of bed,” he joked.
Football has the most rigorous first-week training schedule of any of the fall sports, with an early morning practice beginning at 7:30 a.m., and an afternoon practice from 4-6:30 p.m.
The team will drop down to one practice a day next week to prepare for its first game, Sept. 6 at home versus The Dalles.
Despite the “daily doubles” concept, most other HRV teams have pared down to one extended practice per day. Both soccer teams play their first games on Sept. 12, while the volleyball team begins play Sept. 13 in Bend. Cross-country schedules will be available soon.