The footballs, field hockey sticks and soccer balls have all been packed away.
And just days after the fall sports season ended on Thanksgiving, the high school winter season is officially underway. Practices kicked off Monday afternoon for area ice hockey, basketball, wrestling and indoor track teams starting their respective campaigns next week.
Sure, high school football championship games will be played this week, but with no local teams partaking in the festivities at Gillette Stadium, the focus turns to a new season with new hopes. Whether it was on the ice or on the hardwood, high school programs kicked off the preparations for the upcoming season.
“When the season’s over, I’m happy for about a week and then I want to get going again. It’s nice to be back out on the ice,” said Fitchburg/Monty Tech hockey coach Steve Lowney after his team wrapped up its first practice at the Wallace Civic Center. “The play was sloppy, as would be expected, but they’ll get their timing down and their legs under them.
“The enthusiasm was there and they were working hard, which is what you’re looking for.”
The Red Raiders will get their first game under their belts on Dec. 9, hosting Oakmont Regional at the Wallace Civic Center at 6:10 p.m.
Like most coaches, Lowney wasn’t ready to claim his team will contend for a state title this winter, but was happy that his Red Raiders came out ready to skate and get the winter season underway.
“They were ready to go,” Lowney said. “I think we’ve got a good group this year and they want to be part of this. We’ve got a lot of things to be pleased with after the first day.”
It’s a familiar scene at other practices across the state. Basketball teams got conditioning drills started, with the boys basketball team at St. Bernard’s running multiple sprints to get their legs going.
Most teams won’t have an official game until late next week, with scrimmages coming before the real contests.
The Bernardians, for example, open the season Dec. 9 at 6:30 p.m., welcoming Monty Tech to the Activity Center for a contest in the Buddy Tackett Tournament.