The crossover line from winter and spring sports here at the home office occurs annually late on the first Monday night in April, right after the final shot from One Shining Moment cuts to a second of darkness.
I’m a basketball guy. Always have been, always will be. I love covering the sport and I’m addicted to the college game, in front of the TV for most of the three weeks of the NCAA Tournament. Saturday night’s Gonzaga-UCLA game was either the best or one of the two best games I’ve ever seen. Last night was a disappointment — a case can be made UCLA didn’t get the win over the Zags but contributed to yesterday’s loss, though perhaps no one was going to beat Baylor.
Because major league baseball has lost me, One Shining Moment also means the end of my national sports interest until NFL training camps start up.
Thus, I’ve never really thought about the high school spring season until the Tuesday after the NCAA Tournament final.
Until this year.
While taking last week off for a reboot, I found myself not just relaxing in the present but thinking about the season that starts Saturday in the future. This winter was miserable for a variety reasons, stemming in large part from being isolated due to my personal Covid comfort level. With very few exceptions, socially I was a recluse.
The FCIAC basketball season was completed about as smoothly as could have been hoped. Still, for reasons mostly unexplainable, while other sports in the league have been on an upswing, basketball has continued to trend in the opposite direction.
This spring season has so many positive offerings. First, as the weather has warmed up, just the chance to be outdoors seems like a holy grail. Then there is the fact we never had a spring season a year ago. Doing prep work for the season, talking again to coaches, has almost seemed like making the final plans for a reunion.
While high school athletes have had to make varying degrees of sacrifice, spring athletes were the first to lose a season. A full season. Not even an opening day of practice.
Working on previews has been a challenge because for many coaches, learning their personnel has been a challenge. They have never coached any of their sophomores and of course freshmen. In only a few instances they have seen upperclassmen in game situations.
While in this era nothing is a secret — and it is somewhat surprising to me but shouldn’t be the extent coaches seem to have some knowledge on their opponents — scouting is going to be behind where it normally is.
But FCIAC spring sports are different for a number of reasons. The biggest is lacrosse. We get to see the sport at the very highest level nationally. Look how many players are headed to top Division I schools. The loss of interstate games is going to create a void, but the league this year, especially on the boys side, is deep. We will get to see the top teams meet more often.
Darien, as an example, will play New Canaan and Ridgefield twice, nationally ranked Brunswick and Glastonbury, a top upstate program. The competition will be fine.
When I started this site seven and a half years ago, I had not covered much lacrosse. I worked at the Stamford Advocate for close to two decades and was pretty much on the baseball and softball beat. I wasn’t anti-lacrosse, I didn’t know the sport. I have no doubt if there was a Back to the Future moment and I came back today as a 4th-grader moving to the area, I would be picking up a stick.
And while I said professional baseball has lost me, the sport hasn’t. We are going through a golden period in the FCIAC. There are more scouts at more games than ever before, with teams carrying more talent and greater depth. That should not change after a year off.
The league is going to be pitching heavy. Every team seems to have an ace. The last full season just three games separated the two through eighth seeds; only two if you removed the second seed.
So bring on spring sports. After this winter, we are ready for and need you.