My colleague Les Knutson just wrote his latest â€œBlast from the pastâ€ column (in the Nov. 18 issue) about his experiences covering the fall prep sports scene for the Daily Globe this year.
Whereas Les has witnessed countless fall seasons around here in the past, this fall season was my first ever.
Below Iâ€™ll share some of my impressions based on what I saw while covering this yearâ€™s area fall sports.
First off, this wasnâ€™t only my first high school sports season as a Daily Globe staffer, it was my first high school sports season in the USA.
I spent my high school years at Yokohama International School in Japan, and the closest I came to American high school sports culture was when we played against the high schools on U.S. military bases. Letâ€™s just say that before covering my first assignment for the Daily Globe that Iâ€™d never been to a high school sporting event with cheerleaders before (something I had in common with the Jackson County Central football teamâ€™s kicker Marcelo Rinaldi, of Brazil, who I had the great fortune to meet and write about my second week on the job).
One of the first things that struck me when I started the job down here, besides the presence of cheerleaders, is that I didnâ€™t know hardly as much as I thought I did about American football.
Watching the high school games around here was the closest Iâ€™ve ever come to the game â€” striding the sidelines with a camera and getting the heck out of the way when a running back or wide receiver crashed out of bounds. Once I even picked up the ball after a successful PAT and kicked it back to a referee.
I found out why itâ€™s such an addicting sport. I saw my share of blowouts, but also some nail-biters â€” the last being Luverneâ€™s 7-6 loss to Caledonia in Rochester on Nov. 12. I talked to coaches and heard them talk about the â€œI,â€ without ever really grasping what the â€œIâ€ actually is. Iâ€™ve been in locker rooms with teams after a season-ending loss, and still saw players looking to the positive side of things.
In the driving snow in Rochester during the Luverne/Caledonia game, I stood there urging the Cardinals to pull through and keep their season alive, because I didnâ€™t want the football season to end. Itâ€™s going to feel like a long wait until next football season.
The other sports that I spent the majority of my time following this fall were soccer, volleyball and cross country.
I spent my very first night in Worthington at Trojan Field covering the WHS girlsâ€™ soccer team, and followed every one of their games until their playoff exit, whether from the stands at Trojan Field or through a lively phone call with head coach Smitty Ektnitphong when they were on the road.
The Trojan boysâ€™ soccer teamâ€™s season stretched out a bit longer, and I was at each of their playoff games, urging them to make it all the way to the top. Unlike football, soccer is a sport Iâ€™ve had plenty of experience with in the past, and the level of play Juan Flores, Michael Singsaath and company exhibited was much too high for them to be eliminated before the section championship game.
Iâ€™m looking forward to seeing the next incarnation of both the WHS girls’ and boys’ teams next season in the aftermath of the graduation of this yearâ€™s star seniors.
Iâ€™ve been tasked with coming up with the Daily Globeâ€™s all-area volleyball team, and it has been a nightmare of an assignment. Iâ€™ve been so thoroughly impressed with the level of volleyball that is played around here that it doesnâ€™t seem fair to have to choose a finite number of players to select for this honor.
You can ask sports editor Aaron Hagen, but I was legitimately giddy leading up to the volleyball section tournament. I would say I was definitely more excited to follow the volleyball tournament than I was to follow this yearâ€™s MLB postseason (were the Twins even in it? It hardly feels that way).
Again, I was hoping for our teams to keep winning and keep the volleyball season going on and on, but all too suddenly it too was over.
I only made it physically to two or three cross country meets, but I was blown away by the talent exhibited by the runners around here â€” itâ€™s hard not to be when in our coverage area we have multiple runners who qualified for the state championships and a state championship team.
I ran into my fair share of confusion with brothers and sisters aplenty competing on the same team, and was lucky not to end the Adrian girlsâ€™ cross country teamâ€™s hopes of a championship after they posed in a human pyramid when I asked if I could take a team picture. I was happy firstly that they didnâ€™t fall, and then that they actually went ahead and won the state championship four days later.
Itâ€™s a pity I never got down to Iowa to meet them, but I was also able to establish a long-distance correspondence with Leah Seivert and Amy Dreessen, two of Iowaâ€™s best up-and-coming cross country runners, who both had unbelievably successful freshman seasons for the Sibley-Ocheyeden girlsâ€™ cross country team.
Iâ€™m an avid golfer, but had never anticipated going to a golf course for anything other than playing golf. Now every time Iâ€™m on a course Iâ€™ll subconsciously be watching out for cross country runners emerging from behind the trees.
Iâ€™m sad to see the fall season end, but the good thing is that another season is on the way. Iâ€™ve already had my first taste of basketball and hockey season, but Iâ€™ve never been to a wrestling meet or any sort of gymnastics competition, so the new experiences arenâ€™t over for me for the year.
For anyone reading my articles, I ask for your patience as I continue to learn on the fly.