It’s been nearly a month and a half since the George Stevens Academy and Mount Desert Island boys’ basketball teams capped off the winter sports season with state championships, and the wait for more high school sports has been a long one. When Ellsworth and Bucksport met for preseason baseball and softball games last Tuesday, that wait finally came to a much-awaited end.
Although both games were happening in Bucksport at the same time, I was still able to stop by both fields for batting practice. The excitement level at both fields was as palpable as could be, and the fans, coaches, players and umpires displayed a form of exuberance that only manifests one time of the year: mid-April.
Mid-April is one of the best times of the year for all of us, but that’s especially true for high school students. There are less than two months before summer starts, and everyone is looking forward to the end of another school year. With the harshness of winter in the past, spring activities can begin. That includes the spring sports season.
The spring sports season is one that’s often overlooked at the high school level. For one, basketball season is the driving force behind high school athletics in Maine and other states throughout New England. In states such as Texas, Florida and Ohio, football is king. For whatever reason, spring sports season just doesn’t have the draw fall and winter seasons do.
That reality is somewhat unfortunate. There’s no better time of year to get out and enjoy life more than the spring and early summer months, and watching baseball, tennis or track and field with birds chirping and a nice breeze at your back is an experience you can’t have in late October or early January.
Spring sports season is also the last time communities will get to see certain athletes on the field. In less than two months time, seniors from around Hancock County will graduate and head off to begin the next stages of their lives. April, May and June represent one last chance to see these athletes together before the faces we see on the field and around the classroom change a little bit.
For better or worse, high school doesn’t last forever. Whether it happens this June or years down the road, every athlete who has played or ever will play varsity sports will experience the day when he or she takes off the uniform representing the community they love for the last time. In a day in age when many students are two- or three-sport athletes, that often comes at the end of the spring sports season.
The spring sports season is definitely the shortest of them all — some teams don’t begin their seasons until the last week of April — but there’s a silver lining: Fans have opportunities to watch their favorite players and teams multiple times per week. Such chances shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Like all things in life, this time of year doesn’t last. It will be fall again before we know it, and although that time of year has a lot to offer, there’s something to be said for the excitement and energy seen on tracks, ball diamonds and tennis courts in the spring months. It’s a time of year that should be cherished while it lasts.