FARMINGDALE — All around the state, high school spring sports teams got to work Monday afternoon.

Nowhere was that more true than at Hall-Dale High School.

The first day of spring practices arrived Monday, and the Hall-Dale track and field team spent it getting rid of the evidence of winter. While most teams took to the shelter of their school’s gyms to get started, the Bulldogs organized themselves into groups, picked up shovels and started the long task of clearing the snow off the quarter-mile track.

It might sound like punishment, but coach Jarod Richmond said the shoveling has become a team tradition, and part of the process of building chemistry and camaraderie.

“I think the kids like it, it’s a good way to get back into the swing of things,” he said. “They kind of get excited about it. … They’ve got cabin fever just like everybody else.”

The preseason shoveling is necessary to clear off the facility as quickly as possible, but Richmond said the team has found the fun in it as well.

“It’s a little bit of both. The quicker we can get out on the surface, the better off we’ll be,” he said. “It’s not as easy as you would think, to shovel a whole track, but it kind of became a tradition to come out here and just help get a jump start.”

Meanwhile, players enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere of the job. While some dutifully shoveled off snow, Brandon Ebert and Gilbert Burbank took to snowblowers in a cowboy hat and shorts, respectively, while Caleb McDougal took the snow he had taken off the track and turned it into an infield snowman.

“We’re a unique bunch. It fits our team,” senior Sabrina Freeman said. “We like to have fun. … We have a good time while we’re fooling around like this.”

Fooling around, true, but Richmond said the team still got plenty from the day outside.

“I would argue that this is a good workout,” Richmond said. “It’s lifting, it’s moving snow, the snow’s heavy. We kind of say ‘It’s arm day today.’ But it’s a good workout, and I think it’s even more important to start getting that team bonding together and getting the group together.”

For most teams, however, Monday meant gym time. At Erskine, the boys and girls tennis teams had their own hour-long sessions, and Eagles players were excited to finally pick up a racquet and start playing — as much they could, at least.

“It feels great. I think we’ve got a great group of guys,” senior Nick Howes said. “Everyone’s really excited. Everyone’s really pumped for the season. We’ve got a great group of athletes, everyone thinks we can go far. We didn’t quite make playoffs last year, but we’re definitely feeling it this year.”

Tennis in a gym isn’t easy. It’s difficult to simulate the way the ball would bounce on the court, coach Ryan Nored said, and there’s no way to hold matches between players.

Erskine track and field coach David Currier leads the team in exercises Monday in South China. It was the first day for spring practices. Staff photo by David Leaming

“The surface is so different, you can’t really play any live games,” he said. “We do a lot of workouts, a lot of flexibility, leg-strengthening and core-strengthening things.”

Still, the Eagles found ways to put an element of tennis into their practice. Nored lowered one of the nets in the gym so players could practice their serving form and do soft toss to practice their forehand and backhand strokes.

“(It’s) just to get the basics down. For the guys who played last year, it’ll be more reminding,” Nored said. “For the guys who have never played, it’ll be more learning.”

It’s only a hint of the sport, but Nored said that’s enough for players who have been eager for the season to start.

“Hear them? They’re loving doing pushups,” Nored said. “It’s the excitement of the first day. They’re excited for the new season and they’re excited to get out of indoors and play.”

Andy Haskell’s Gardiner girls lacrosse team had to deal with the constraints of the gym as well, but also figured out a way to take elements of the game inside.

Erskine track and field team members, including Kaylee Porter, left, got a chance to run outside Monday in South China. It was the first day of spring practices. Staff photo by David Leaming

“We spend the first five days just getting acclimated to lacrosse, so it’s just a lot of basic skills, a lot of just general, fundamental work,” said Haskell, who added that numbers are up with 23 players turning out. “Just a lot of stickwork, general movement, general pattern movements. … We know a lot of kids played either hockey or swimming or basketball in the wintertime, so we want to spend the first five days re-acclimating them to lacrosse.”

Haskell said the team had often made the first few days about conditioning, but changed that up this year to put more lacrosse-specific drills into the opening week.

“We’re taking a different approach this year,” he said. “Once we get into Weeks 2 and 3, we’ll focus more on the lacrosse conditioning and the things we want to do lacrosse-wise. … We take our time building up. It’s a process.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

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Twitter: @dbonifantMTM