The sports events that tickle my fancy

Patrick Newell

here are particular sports events during the year that pique my anticipation more than others. In the fall, the crisp, clear air of early September in upstate New York combined with the Friday night lights creates an electrified feeling through my veins. It’s a level of ambiance unlike any other. Every team has a clean slate, coaches are full of hope, and no one really knows what will happen. For three weeks of practice, players have beat up on their teammates – save a controlled scrimmage the weekend before the season starts. Coaches, players, and fans may have a sense of how good their respective team may be, but again, no one can predict a team’s fortunes.
Additionally, while other sports may have played before the first football game, the fall sports season has not truly arrived until the opening kickoff football season.
I look forward to basketball season in the winter, particularly the Tom Schwan Tournament, named in memory of the late Evening Sun sportswriter. The winter sports season is the longest of my seasonal campaigns, and after plowing through a long season, the postseason arrives in time to fire up this writer’s fingers. Coupled with that is the excitement of the sectional and state wrestling tournaments. A “can’t-miss” to me is the Section IV wrestling tournament, and eventually, the state wrestling tournament.
Typically, I have anywhere from a week to three weeks of relative inactivity from the end of the winter season and the start of spring sports. Much like professional baseball, the important spring games occur in the postseason, and we have had no shortage of quality postseason games.
Still, my biggest thrill in the spring is covering the tremendous track and field athletes our local area produces year after year. I admire the speed, the power, and the grace of the sprinters, distance runners, and jumpers. To achieve success at the highest levels of the state is a testament to one’s individual athletic excellence and personal dedication.
Around this time, my high school sports season comes to a close. For the next few weeks, the sports pages include sports events that one cannot plan for or expect. For instance, just this week, a local golfer fired the lowest nine-hole round ever recorded in Norwich. Last week, a Norwich team won a baseball championship, and before that several area athletes competed with much success at the Empire State Games. A year ago, we featured former area athletes who have umpired the New York Yankees’ Old Timer’s Game for several years. All impromptu events that I thoroughly enjoyed writing about.
Those unplanned events aside, one event in the summer occurs the same week every year in August, and it’s personal value and overall enjoyment ranks side by side – to me – with the opening day of football season. Tomorrow, Canasawacta Country Club hosts its 52nd Annual Men’s Member-Guest Golf Tournament. Unless you’re a golfer, you will probably skip right over my previews, articles, photos, and scoring summaries that will dot the sports pages for three days each summer.
I won’t apologize for this statement: I love this golf tournament and the atmosphere that it creates. It’s about friends and family coming together in a competitive golfing environment on a familiar course with a long history. Those who grew up playing on the course hold the tournament in high esteem. Almost every young Norwich player dreams of one day winning the member-guest. I know I had that thought.
This golf tournament just about completes my year-long cycle of sports coverage, and in a few weeks, I’ll have the opportunity to revel in the excitement of another opening day of football.