Time to put away the beach chairs, summer is over.

Well, not exactly, but even as summer lingers on for a few more weeks the fall high school sports season officially begins Monday morning with the start of practices. For many athletes, though, the fall season unofficially began well over a month ago.

“We’ve had decent numbers in the weight room all summer and all of our assistant coaches are back full time so there’s a familiarity there between the players and the coaching staff,” said first-year Gardiner head football coach Joe White, who was a member of Matt Burgess’ coaching staff before he left to take a position with Bridgton Academy this summer. “We had a lot of kids show up to 7-on-7. There were some eager underclassmen wanting to get a whiff of that a bit.”

In addition to offseason workouts, Gardiner — like a number of a area football teams — participates in the 7-on-7 league at Leavitt Area High School. Such a practice is hardly unique to football, though.

“I had a very good turnout this summer for our games and I consistently had 19 or 20 girls every game we played,” Monmouth girls soccer coach Gary Trafton said. “We even played in a round robin one Sunday back at Madison. Usually we don’t get into one in the summer time.”

Even with workouts prior to the recently-expired, two-and-a-half-week hands-off period, athletes and coaches will need to be mindful of avoiding overexertion and staying hydrated. Weather forecasts are calling for temperatures to reach the upper 80s to lower 90s with a fair amount of humidity, thus leading area administrators to be proactive about the situation.

“I’m sending out an email and making phone calls, making sure coaches are made aware of the weather,” Lawrence High School athletic director Bill MacManus said. “It’s supposed to be one of the hottest days that we’ve had. We’re making sure they give the kids plenty of rest and plenty of water.”

Weather and protocol aside, most athletes are just happy to get back out on the field again. As it is with any season, each beginning brings with it new hope that this year could be even better than the last.

“We have a young team and I’m kind of excited because we have a brand new team coming — new captains, new seniors,” said Meranda Martin, a junior on the Richmond High School girls soccer team. “We have a new team, new bodies and there’s a few freshmen coming in. We lost some seniors, but you look forward to every season having new people.

“It’s a little bittersweet because you’re enjoying your summer and having nice weather, but then it’s like, ‘now I have to go to practice.’ …In the end it really pays off a lot, though.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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