High school sports have become more and more year-round, leaving less and less of an offseason.
Today is the first day of in-season practice for all fall sports according to the South Carolina High School League schedule. It’s a new schedule following the approval in April of a proposal that opened up most of the year to offseason practice.
Easley High’s football team, like the rest, has been working all summer, and on the eve of their first in-season practice, the players were taking part in “Meet the Green Wave” festivities at their stadium along with family members and fans.
Senior offensive lineman Weston Owens said despite all the work the team has put in from the end of last season to this point, today still has meaning.
“The first day of practice is always the most exciting day,” he said. “We’re all looking forward to it. We look forward to it all year-round. It’s a real big thing.
“We lift weights all summer, but we still don’t get to come out here in pads and hit. That’s the real fun of the game for me.”
They won’t get to hit right away. They’ll wear helmets only to start. But they’ll hit soon enough.
“The first day is always special, because it’s the beginning of the season,” said Easley senior defensive lineman Quaven Ferguson. “You always want to get out there and go your hardest the first day and show what you’ve got.”
Grayson Howell, in his first season as Easley’s head coach, recalled his first season as a coach, at Strom Thurmond in 1995, and “just the excitement about that Monday morning practice.”
He said he’s glad his players still have that feeling.
“It ought to be special, and I hope we’re not taking that away by having to do it all the time, or feeling like you’re behind if you don’t,” Howell said.
“It feels good to the head coach to hear them say that, because you do wonder if they feel that way. It does my heart good. And you hope they’ll feel that way when they’re conditioning tomorrow morning.”