By state rules, high school sports teams can begin practicing for the fall season at the strike of midnight Monday morning.
The Millbrook football team decided to take that literally.
The Blazers will be on the field for their first official preseason practice at 12:01 a.m., with plans to work until 3 a.m.
“It was something different,” Millbrook football coach Sean Keenan said, “something to get the kids excited about it.”
The school opened its turf athletic facility last season, but the field’s lights were not in place for the start of the year, and the team held its first week of preseason practices at Elm Drive Elementary School. Now with the ability to play at night, the idea was discussed at a team meeting late in the spring.
“I Googled it, went on YouTube and teams all over the place were OK with it,” Keenan said.
The idea then went up the chain of the school’s leadership — from Athletic Director Bill Blayney, to Principal Sandra Intrieri, to Superintendent Philip D’Angelo.
“I love the idea, because I think coach Sean Keenan is very, very good at building, not just a team, but a family,” said Intrieri, noting that, more than winning, “building relationships between the kids on the team is most important.”
“They were all behind it,” Keenan said. “They, like the rest of Millbrook, supports the football team and the sports here at the school.
“The one stipulation we had with the kids was that the kids would not drive (themselves) home.”
There will not be a school bus offered to the players at 3 a.m., but an “overwhelming amount of parent support,” with many offering to provide rides home, has kept that from becoming an issue.
“I know quite a few of the dads are going to come,” Keenan said. “The parents are pretty excited.”
Millbrook finished the 2013 regular season 8-0 before losing to James I. O’Neill in the Section 9 Class C semifinals. Millbrook last won a sectional title in 2010.
Keenan said he’s treating the midnight debut like a “regular practice,” taking the place of a Monday morning/afternoon session that would have likely run longer than three hours total. The coach isn’t concerned about the missed time on the field, thanks to extra offseason work in the preceding weeks.
“We’ve been going at it pretty good. We were at camp with Arlington and (Franklin D. Roosevelt) a couple weeks ago. We got a lot of work in,” Keenan said. “We’ll be OK in the long run.”
Regardless of whether the practice benefits the Blazers on the field — “I’ll tell you Tuesday or Wednesday if there’s any benefit,” Keenan said — Intrieri said the event will be special for the team.
“Something like this,” the principal said, “that’s what the kids are going to remember when they graduate.”
Mike Benischek: email@example.com, 845-437-4722, Twitter: @BenischekPJ