Although teams work through the summer to get in shape and memorize plays, the first day of high school practice still is compelling. Former players, some lean and fast and young and some bald and thick and old, return to see the new stars or offer sage and helpful advice.
At Independence High Monday, the grass was as short as a buzz cut, the white lines faded, the plastic cones plentiful.
But you didn't have to look to know where you were. Close your eyes and listen. Where else could you be?
Here's some of what I heard:
"Tuck your jerseys in!"
"Look, listen, think!"
"Feet down, feet down, push up, let's go!"
"Get your butts down!"
"Explode off that line!"
"There you go, great catch!"
"Let's go, let's go, go, go, go, go, go, go!"
To the defense: "Stop playing like offensive guys!"
To the defense four plays later: "Hey, you guys are getting smart!"
"You just look scared right now!"
"I told you this is going to be hard!"
And my favorite: "Summer's over. Time to go to work!"
As a guy that just came off two weeks of vacation, I can relate.
But if you have to work, the first day of high school practice, especially one led by the Independence staff, is a fine place to start.