FOOTBALL:2019 schedules released (copy)

Central quarterback Jay Lemenager hands off to Garrett Graham in a game at Watseka last season. 

I was sitting at my desk Monday, preparing for a story coming out later this week and awaiting an emailed response pertaining to that story, when I started glancing at my July calendar, trying to get plans down for the one month of the year when no prep sports are played.

The spring season for the 2018-19 school year ended less than a month ago, and our postseason all-area squads just finished their release that weekend. One might think that means there are some easy days ahead for the next month or so, but that’s not exactly the case.

Sure, I am going to be able to take a four-day family vacation this month, but aside from that, things already are in full-go for the 2019-20 school year. I already have started making rounds to catch some of our fall sports teams preparing for the season ahead during summer action.

Football camps began in early June, as did summer soccer shootouts and baseball games (some area schools still play summer ball, despite the increasing popularity in travel leagues), and I’m certain some of the joggers I see on my drives to and from work are some of our local cross country runners.

Kids are keeping busy and ready to shine in the upcoming school year, all while new athletic directors and coaches are just starting to become accustomed to their new positions and roles. Just because the school year ended doesn’t mean prep sports did.

It’s a beautiful thing to see from my perspective. Heading into my third school year with the Journal, I’ve started to reach the point in which I’ve covered some of these upcoming seniors since before the reached the varsity level. Or, in some cases, I have covered at the varsity level since they have had their learner’s permits.

Now, I see them driving themselves to practices and camps when I come by for interviews. I’m seeing kids turn into leaders, bonds forming that will be unbreakable three months from now. I’m seeing what prep sports are all about.

I know many events, such as most of our local summer basketball shootouts, already have come and gone as we finished tying up the loose ends of the past season, but I also know many more events are coming up in the near future. Reed-Custer’s soccer shootout Friday, and the Central 7 on 7 and linemen challenge will take place the last Saturday of the month — to name a few.

I look forward to getting to as many of these summer events as I can. Having to run the department myself the past couple months, I have missed a few of my favorite summer activities, such as the Braidwood Shootout for boys and girls basketball in Reed-Custer, which celebrated its 25th year this summer.

Although it has pained me to miss out on events such as those, I’m excited for the events I have been and will be able to get out to you. As I said, summer activities are where teams are made, where kids soak up the knowledge they need to grow into the leaders and student-athletes they are budding into.

If I’m not able to make your school’s shootout, camp or showcase, please don’t take it personally. I get out to as much as I can and also make sure the day-to-day responsibilities of our department are taken care of. The patience many of our coaches, student-athletes and administrators have shown as I’ve held things down on my own are much appreciated, and the kind words that have come this way are reciprocated.

We will have a slew of new faces around the upcoming sports school year, whether that be fresh faces in uniform, as coaches or athletic directors. As August nears, I look forward to telling you their stories.

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