With the air so thick that you would want to change after taking a couple of steps, summer’s heat made a comeback Monday, but for hundreds of Chester County high school athletes, fall was the prevailing season on their minds.
The official beginning of practice for the 2015 season began Monday under sunny, humid conditions. Most sports will begin on Friday, Sept. 4, but golf and tennis will get an early start. Golf will tee off Thursday, tennis next week.
“The first day of practice is definitely exciting,” said Downingtown West cross country senior, and state medalist, Aislinn Devlin said. “It feels great for the season to officially be here.”
The heat did make its mark on the athletes as a number of football players had to be treated after suffering from cramping.
The first day is a chance for coaches to see their returning players and begin evaluating talent for playing time.
“The first day is more about fitness,” said Downingtown West girls soccer coach Wes Davis.
“We’re work to see what’s the best combination. How to make the puzzle pieces fit..”
The Whippets could be one of the main players in a very competitive National Division of the Ches-Mont League. West lost a number of seniors, but return a lot of people who have experience. Downingtown East also return a talented cast that may have added incentive after losing to West Chester East in the opening round of the district playoffs last season.
Speaking of the Vikings, much would be expected of the team under second-year coach Shannon Mueller after pulling off the upset. Wes Chester Henderson will be in the mix with star Sydney Zandi, one of the top individual talents heading into the season.
For cross country, plenty of talent will be on display. Downingtown West boys bring back six varsity runners, including Henry Sappey, who comes back for his senior year after finishing fifth in the district meet last year.
“We’ve been working hard all summer,” junior Shaun Bullock said. “We had a really good turn out for our first day of practice. It’s really exciting to get back out there and get to work.”
Bishop Shanahan loses just one its top seven runners from a team that placed third at the District 1 Class AA meet.
“It just feels great to get back out there,” senior Seamus Fromhartz said. “We’re really excited to get started.”
Playoff-caliber teams such as West Chester Rustin, Downingtown East, Coatesville and Downingtown West got going as optimism is high that the area could put a team in the District 1 finals, or even, into the state playoffs in Class AAAA or AAA.
New coaches such as Doug Langley at Kennett get the first official look at their teams. Another notable new coach is Clee Brun taking over for Rob Conti-D’antonio in volleyball for Unionville.