Just around the corner…
Baldwin High School and Baker University coaches are excited about starting the fall sports season that begins Monday.
Although BHS football coach Mike Berg will finalize equipment checkouts tonight, the Bulldogs' season won't officially begin until 6 a.m. Monday. Berg couldn't be any happier to begin his season.
"I am most definitely excited about starting the season Monday," Berg said. "We've been working really hard in the offseason. The kids are stronger and we are excited to see what they look like on the field."
The same can be said for Baker football coach Mike Grossner, who hopes to improve on a 3-8 record from last year.
"It's been quite a long offseason, but it's been a good one," Grossner said. "I think our kids have worked hard and have prepared themselves. We were very young as a football team last year, but we played a lot of young kids."
The Wildcats will be checking in Sunday for an equipment checkout and a team meeting. Then, they will be checked physically Monday morning, followed by a conditioning test.
On Tuesday, Baker will hold its first official practice of the 2006 season. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they will be practicing on their practice field, since Liston Stadium isn't completely finished with the construction project.
"I am really disappointed," Grossner said. "That field has been finished and we have stayed off of it to allow the construction to get done. For some reason we are behind. It's disappointing that I've got 100 football players coming in and 60 yards of space out there to work on."
"If it rains, we are in real trouble," Grossner said. "We ran into that problem the last two years. So, we are going to adapt and adjust."
The Wildcats will only be practicing with half-pads for the first couple of days, but they have to get ready to play quickly in full pads.
"We've got to get ready, because we have a scrimmage against Fort Scott on Aug. 19," Grossner said. "We come in Tuesday and by the time we get to full pads and get going, we are scrimmaging somebody."
Baker will be scrimmaging Fort Scott Community College at 3 p.m. Aug. 19 in Fort Scott.
Facilities shouldn't be a problem for the BHS and Baldwin Junior High School football teams. Berg has kept the practice fields watered this summer, but he will have to prepare them for practice before Monday.
"We are going to get them mowed so we can put lines on them," Berg said of the practice fields west of BHS. "They will be ready to go by Monday."
The football teams aren't the only ones beginning practice next week. All fall sports at Baker, BHS and BJHS will be starting practice on Monday or Tuesday.
The BHS soccer team will hold its first practice at 7 a.m. Monday at the field north of BHS. The Bulldogs will also be having a second practice before school starts at 6 p.m.
Another BHS team that will be starting early Monday morning will be the state champion BHS cross country teams. Coach Mike Spielman will also be holding two-a-days for his runners, as the Bulldogs will be running at 6:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.
"We will start off and see where everybody is at," Spielman said. "We will try to get everybody acclimated and teach them the running drills. We will just kind of get them back into the swing of things."
Spielman said he is ready for the start of the season.
"I am getting excited for the start of the season," Spielman said. "This is always the great time of the year where everybody is excited about the season starting and it's all new. It's really neat to start off that way."
The Bulldogs will also run into a problem with the unfinished Liston Stadium. During the first week of practice, the Bulldogs usually have a 15-minute run on the track. The delay on the track at Liston has caused Spielman to find a new plan for this fall.
"We will have to check the scheduling, because I would like to go over to Wellsville and do it since we don't have a track yet," Spielman said. "We will have to wait and see if we can work something out on that."
All of these teams will be practicing early in the morning and in the evening to avoid the heat as much as possible.
Grossner said he will be taking precautions to keep players hydrated and cooler during this hot spell.
"It's scary," Grossner said of the weather. "It's drier than dry and hotter than hot. When I say dry, I don't anticipate much rain coming in. Everybody is dealing with it, so we've got to be smart as a coaching staff and training staff. We have to realize when kids are getting hot and overheated and do the right thing."
Another team that will battle the heat is the BHS girls' tennis team. The Bulldogs will be practicing at 3:35 p.m. starting Monday.
The BHS volleyball team will begin practice Monday afternoon under the new leadership of coach Kelly Brown. The BJHS volleyball team will be waiting until Thursday to start its season.
Schedules for the Baker teams can be found at www.bakerwildcats.com.