Despite what the thermometer tells us, it is high school sports time again.
The Henry County Lady Cats’ golf team has already played in several events. The Eminence and Henry County volleyball teams played their first regular season games last night, and my calendar is so full of games for the upcoming months that I have no place to put anything else.
I look forward to covering the broad spectrum of sports during the “fall” season, but I also feel a bit anxious. For instance, on Sept. 4, at least five local sports teams will be playing and at least two of those are home contests. Oh boy! I’m going to need a “virtual me” to cover all of that.
But, hey that’s what I signed up for: all sports, all the time. What more could a sports lover ask for? The only weekday in September aside from Labor Day without a local high school sports contest is Wednesday, Sept. 12, which happens to be the day of the Friends for Michael Golf Scramble. I will be busy that day “working” for FFM and covering the event for this paper. Oh, what a tough life I have!
The highlight of the fall sports season for me will be that I have a chance to see all the teams play. Over the past several years my focus has been on the cross country team and my family which meant that I had very little time to watch any other sports. That’s about to change, big time. Now I will watch girls’ and boys’ soccer, football, volleyball and girls’ and boys’ golf in addition to boys’ and girls’ cross country. Not only that, I get to watch them for free because it’s my job to be there.
Several of the area teams are sporting very young rosters this season. For example, the Henry County golf teams are so young that many of these players seem to be barely out of diapers. But this bodes well for the future of the programs. They may take some lumps, but they will gain valuable experience for future seasons.
Both area volleyball teams will feature young players. The HCHS girls have only three seniors and one junior on the roster, but they have a large pool of talented sophomores and freshmen. The Warriors have only two seniors, which means that the large junior and sophomore classes will have to step up and be ready for varsity action.
As for football, I cannot wait to be on the sidelines when the pads start clashing. I have always been an avid high school football fan but in recent years it just wasn’t feasible for me to make it to many games. Now I will be there on the sidelines as often as possible to catch the action up close and personal. On Oct. 5, 12 and 26, the Wildcats and Warriors both play at home which will present a challenge, but I’m up for it. Perhaps by then, I will have perfected my “virtual me” that I plan to roll out on Sept. 4.
As mentioned in these pages previously, I am a huge soccer fan. Henry County will be lining up with new coaches at the helm and aspirations to continue the improvement seen in recent years by these two relatively young programs. I look forward to watching their growth.
In cross country, both programs will have new coaches at the helm. Victoria Michels and Ricky Drawbaugh will be more than adequate replacements for the former coach. The cross country Cats have most of their team returning but will miss the leadership of Cassey Fischer and Hayden Hughes. The Warriors look to replace the inspiring Adam Case and, as of press time, long-time coach Scott McClamroch who has retired.
Yates: The right man for the job
One of my favorite sports memories does not involve a team I coached.
In 1993, the Henry County baseball team faced a heavily favored, top-20-ranked Walton-Verona team. With Bryan Nolin pitching and Zak Yates catching, the Wildcats took Walton to extra innings. Nolin pitched the whole game and the Bearcats eventually tagged him for the winning run in the ninth inning.
Nolin’s effort was heroic as he continued to find the gas in the tank to return to the mound inning after inning after a long season, but the most exciting event in the game for me was Yates’ 3-run home run that gave the Cats a 4-0 lead in the first inning.
It was the second home run of his career and it came on the biggest stage. Yates and Nolin were two of the young people that fit the description of the type of athletes that have the right attitude that I wrote about in last week’s paper.
Yates now takes the helm of the Wildcats’ baseball team as head coach. I believe he is the best possible choice to help the program continue its run of overachievement. Yates has been an assistant for many years, with at least five different head coaches coming and going in that time. He has always been the constant in the program. I have never been around a high school coach who puts so much attention to detail into the game.
The team lost a lot of the players who led them to the regional semi-finals this season. Many people expect this to be a “down” year for the Wildcats, but don’t ever count them out with Yates at the helm. If there is a way to get this team to win, he will find it.