No matter what she’s tending to at home or at work, it doesn’t take long for Katie McLaughlin’s thoughts to revert back to the season coming up.

“My mind is constantly going with ‘what are the things I need to get done at my home,’ and then, whenever I’m not thinking about it, it’s all field hockey,” the Messalonskee coach said. “What about this player here, and that one there, and we definitely need to work on this drill. Taking notes and writing things down everywhere, and just making sure I bring it together in the best planned, organized way.”

While players across the fall sports are looking forward to the season, their coaches have been hard at work getting ready. The hands-off period made for two weeks of waiting, but coaches can finally start working with their teams on Monday, and they’re going to be prepared.

“That hands-off period gives everybody the opportunity to sit down and rest and strategize and get re-excited about the season coming up,” McLaughlin said.

Ready as the coaches may be, even they can get surprised with how suddenly the season is approaching.

“It’s a really exciting time going into…Monday, geez,” McLaughlin said. “It always sneaks up on you.”

She has a plan, though. Monday for the Eagles will start with a two-mile timed run, and then drills on the field going from 3-6:30 p.m.

“Especially the first day, I have it pretty lined up,” she said. “That first day of tryouts, emotions are always really high for the players, incoming freshmen are pretty terrified. That first day, you’re really working with every level there is in field hockey. We have a couple of girls that have never picked up a stick before, all the way up to girls that are already planning on playing in college next year.

“That first day of tryouts really kind of lays the ground for the entire season.”

Gardiner boys soccer coach Nick Wallace also has a schedule for the first day, when the Tigers will hold morning and afternoon sessions.

“I typically have my mornings planned out. Mornings are a lot of the short, quick passes, and then the afternoons, we kind of feel what we have there,” he said. “Do we want to work on 3-vs.-3 stuff, 7-on-7, more small side of things in the afternoon. That’s where the tweaking comes in.

“In the morning, we’re all about touches, all about passing. I have those planned right out to the minute, pretty much.”

In August, there’s more of a “starting over” feeling than there will be in October and November, and while late-season practices are about tightening up some areas, coaches early in the fall see a team that has a whole lot of work left to do.

Wallace, however, said he likes seeing all that time and room for growth.

“I like to know what we have to work on going in,” he said. “It gets me kind of used to that blank slate. How can I mold this team into what it was, what it can be … and show them how good they can be, how hard they need to work?”

At Nokomis, the football team will formally begin its defense of its Class C state championship from last year. Coach Jake Rogers says he’s trying to go about planning the first practice the way he will the rest that follow.

“I try to line up all of our practices down to the minute, but they rarely ever stick to the script,” he said. “I treat it no different than any other day, it’s just the first day. So there’s a lot more discussing (concepts) and trying to get quality reps, more quality than quantity.”

The teams have more time with which to work in the preseason, however, which Rogers said is an adjustment for players and coaches alike.

“You’re doing a lot, just because there’s more time in the day,” he said. “That’s always interesting. You get halfway through practice and you’re thinking ‘It should be over by now.’ ”

Though the team changes with each season, Rogers said the procedure for those first few practices remains the same.

“We’ll do our blocking progression like we’ve done since I’ve been there, our tackling progression, all that basic stuff is the same,” he said. “It’s just that Xs and Os will be different.”

Rogers does have a message for the players that show up on Monday.

“I left the boys with a few words that I just can’t stress enough, and that’s ‘Go fast,’ ” he said. “What I don’t want is kids being indecisive and nervous. I want them to go fast. Be confident, have some swagger out there, and believe in what you’re doing.”


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