Jan 29, 2015
Happy New Year!

By Ryan Johnson

Refreshed and recharged by a strong summer, Ryan Johnson, CSCS, Coach Practitioner and Strength and Conditioning Coach at Wayzata High School in Plymouth, Minn., is amped up about the upcoming school year. With much anticipation surrounding the kickoff of high school and college sports seasons across the country, the buzz is electric.

Seasons Greetings! When I write that, I’m actually referring to my favorite time of the year: Back to School. With the anticipation and energy surrounding it, to me this is the most exciting time of the year.

For the parents of little ones, such as myself, it is also a welcome break from youngsters who have been waiting to use their new school supplies for weeks! As a teacher, I’m not able to witness my elementary aged children get on the bus that first day of school, but my wife tells me that as the bus pulls out of the neighborhood she can see parents up and down the street whooping it up in celebration!

As the child of two career teachers/coaches, school is a way of life for me. My parents are both retired from teaching now, but I manage to keep my dad busy coaching football with me in the fall. Football is something that we shared our entire lives. I love the way an entire community rallies around the start of the school year. People are excited about the start of fall sports and can’t wait to find out how good the team is going to be this season.

In Minnesota, high school athletics begin the second Monday of August, and are off and running almost immediately. Our football team will have its first game of the year before classes are in session.

The crowd for the first game will be the largest gathering of students, teachers, parents, etc. of the year for a community and, as you can imagine, it is quite a spectacle. I remember back to my youth how excited my dad would be getting ready for this game and how all of our neighbors stopped over to hear his preview of the game in anticipation of that first kickoff.

The start of the new school year brings a sense of renewal bigger than the change of seasons from fall to winter, or winter to spring. School administrators know how important a successful fall athletic campaign is to get the school year off to a great start. Winning athletic teams seem to put a bounce in the entire school’s step. Ultimately, the community will ride this wave of school spirit into Homecoming Week, which is filled with festivities that will culminate the night of the Homecoming football game and the dance to follow.

Fall is also a time of surprises for some. It is amazing to see some of the changes to the kids over the summer. Our volunteer football coaches who show up in the fall are amazed at how big and fast some guys they haven’t seen in nine months have become. When you’re like me and around those same kids all summer long, sometimes the changes aren’t as obvious–kind of like my own kids at home I guess.

Athletes progress and develop at different rates throughout the year, but I guess you could say that their development comes together by the end of summer. Some of the multi-sport athletes who don’t have an opportunity to dedicate all of their efforts into a training program during the school year can finally step back and just train. Other athletes use the extra time to catch up with their peers and to continue to progress in their workouts. All in all, it is equally as fun to see the reactions to the coaches and their excitement in seeing these athletes again.

As the sun starts rising a little later, and setting a little sooner, soak in that smell of a freshly waxed school hallway. Enjoy the sight of tanned kids in brand new outfits carrying blank tablets and jockeying for position at the cool lunch tables. Maybe step back from your job for a minute and watch how your athletes revel in the excitement and nerves as they anticipate that first football, volleyball, or soccer game of the year.

It really is amazing to think of how I absolutely could not wait for summer break last June. But now as I sit here writing with my new shoes on, I couldn’t be more excited to get back to school and play our first football game next weekend. There is no denying the power of Back to School. Happy New Year everybody!

To read more about our strength and conditioning program, go to: www.wayzata.k12.mn.us. And please feel free to e-mail me with any questions blog ideas at: [email protected].

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