, Newburyport, MA


December 3, 2013

The clock's ticking on winter

Teams open practices yesterday with first games looming

This year’s late Thanksgiving brings a shorter preseason for winter sports teams, and that’s not exactly bad news for the student-athletes.

“It’s always nice to have a few more extra days, but my kids would rather play games than go through one of my preseason practices anyway,” Newburyport girls basketball coach Gregg Dollas said.

Most local coaches will have only 11 or 12 days to get their respective athletes ready for their first competitions due to the late Thanksgiving holiday. By Mass. Interscholastic Athletic Association rule, preseason practices for the winter sports season can not start until the Monday after Thanksgiving, and the first official competitions typically start on the second weekend of December.

Dollas believes that with so many high school athletes playing a sport each season, the short preseason sounds like a bigger deal than it actually is. For instance, his team includes five Newburyport soccer players, all of whom finished their fall seasons just over a week ago with a state-championship victory in Worcester.

“I don’t think we feel that pressured,” Dollas said. “They’re in shape. It’s not like we have to worry about conditioning. We can spend the next 10 or 11 days focusing more on basketball.”

The transition from a running sport like soccer to another running sport like basketball figures to be a little smoother than the transition from seemingly unrelated sports like golf and hockey. However, most of the local hockey coaches run year-round conditioning programs to offset the typical slow transition back onto the ice for athletes who play other fall sports.

Triton hockey coach Drew Wile held his first tryout yesterday at 6 a.m. to send the message to his players that the season had officially started.

“I wanted to get them out of bed, and get the season off to a start,” Wile said. “I want to get them thinking that life isn’t going to be easy over the next 112 days.”

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