Well, not quite yet, but for a couple hundred Wooster High students, August 6 marked the start of the official high school athletic season.
While football got started a week earlier, Monday the majority of fall sports across the state of Ohio got under way. And, like every sport, expectations and optimism abounded.
The Generals’ girls soccer team is looking to defend its Ohio Cardinal Conference title, its second in three years, and the league coaches think that could happen as Wooster and Clear Fork shared top honors in a preseason poll. Wooster coach Les Wudarzewski lost a first-team All-Ohioan in Jen Philippon but still returns a veteran cast.
“We have a number of girls returning this year,” said Wudarzewski, who is entering his seventh season and guided Wooster to a 14-3-2 record a year ago before falling in the District finals. “We still have to put the pieces together, but our defense is solid. We’ve had a good summer and the girls have worked hard.
“We’ll see. It’s a long season and we have to stay healthy, but we have some talent.”
Doug Bennett lost some key performers off a team that made a strong run at an OCC title a year ago as it finished a close third, and his cupboard is hardly bare as well.
“I am encouraged,” said the veteran coach. “We have a good-sized team with 29 boys out and it seems most of them have a pretty good level of fitness. They have done their homework this summer. They have jumped in and picked up the workouts where they ought to be and they have a nice positive attitude and they get along.
“We’ve had some fun this week, but it’s been hard work. I am pleased with where they are … and they have showed me some potential.”
Girls coach Nikki Reynolds echoed some of Bennett’s comments as she, too, has been pleased with the opening days of the season.
“It’s been very encouraging,” said Reynolds. “The girls ran this summer and I can see the benefits of that in the first three days. We return five of our top seven runners and when you throw in the new runners we’re looking to go far. We put it out there we want to win OCC and go for Regionals, but we have to stay healthy.”
Volleyball coach Jen Snowbarger is looking to get back into the thick of things in the OCC after a .500 campaign a year ago. Her first two days were spent looking at players, “so all levels were mixed in and we were evaluating players,” she said.
“(Wednesday morning) the teams … and got after it. Obviously there is a lot to work on, but I could not fault their effort at all,” said Snowbarger. “The girls we have here have tons of potential, but I also know that potential means we have not done anything yet. We have to stay focused and instead of potential, make that what we can accomplish as a group.
“I think at the beginning of the season coaches are excited to get under way when you see the girls working hard and taking it all in. It’s encouraging. We still need to talk about our goals and where the season is going, but it was a good first practice.”
While the volleyball team won’t play its first game until toward the end of August, Stan Burris and the girls tennis team are going to get a quick start with its opening match August 13.
“We only have five days of practice,” said Burris. “The assumption is they have been practicing all summer and they are ready to go.
“We have 26 girls out, which is a big number,” he added. “We have six returning letter winners and another six to eight kids who should be able to contribute on varsity. We’re sorting things out right now. The attitude has been positive and they are working out hard.”
Published: August 8, 2012