Summer break? The ‘fall’ sports season is near

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By Mike Farner

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - The Fourth of July is in the rear view mirror.

The ‘Bullitt County’ Dolphins will complete their swim ‘season’ this Saturday.

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s ‘dead period’ ended on Saturday.

Where has the summer gone?

Actually, the summer still has a long way to go. That said, there is almost no ‘summer break’ any longer in the local sports season.

Plus, it’s not just the sports seasons that have changed over the past few decades. Any parent trying to work in a summer vacation knows that there are very few dates available any longer to get away for a week...or two...to spend out of town without missing basketball camps, baseball/softball All-Stars or football practice.

This might well be impossible for anyone who is not a parent or grand parent, but the Bullitt County Youth Football League allowed the first day of practice this season on Monday, June 27. That’s not a typo. Youth football practice started in June. 

I was chatting with a parent while waiting to take a baseball All-Star team’s picture this past weekend and he was joking that he used to look forward to the first day of school. Not because he liked school, but because that meant that the three-a-day football practices would come to an end.

Actually, three-a-day type football practices have been phased out over the past few years, but it wasn’t that long ago that it was common. Two-a-days still happen in some programs. More than anything, coaches phased out afternoon practices when the KHSAA came out with their rules on heat conditions. Most teams now practice either early in the morning or in the evenings.

For many years, Bullitt East went away to camp for three or four days and as many of those former players...and coaches...will tell you, felt like three-a-day drills.

This summer, first-year Bullitt East head coach Darrell Vincent said recently that his team probably will not go out of town for a camp this season. Why? It had nothing to do with money, but with the fact that with school starting so early now, that the teachers/coaches were going to be expected to be getting their classrooms ready for the first day of classes.

Bullitt East’s annual Charger Golf Tournament, which sort of kicked off the local high school sports season the past few years, won’t happen this season because coaches will be in school that first week of August even if students don’t start until a few days later.

The KHSAA dates for starting fall practice sessions for the first games in each sport, have not changed this summer. The first day that football, volleyball, soccer, golf and cross-country teams can conduct a practice is July 15. Locally, most of the teams won’t really get rolling until July 18 since July 15 falls on a Friday. 

Football teams cannot conduct practices in full pads until Aug. 1. They can only go in helmets up until that date.

The following dates are in play for the upcoming fall seasons:

**The high school golf seasons can start on Monday, Aug. 1.

**The following week, Aug. 8, will see the first volleyball matches.

**Soccer will start its seasons the week of Aug. 15. That is also the first week of the football season, with games being played by all three Bullitt County schools either on Friday, Aug. 19 or Saturday, Aug. 20.

**The final sport to open the season is cross-country which can start having competitions starting the week of Aug. 22. Since they have the longest of the fall seasons other than football, the local cross-country teams really don’t get started competing until Labor Day weekend or even later.

Football Changes

As noted above, all three Bullitt County football teams will have games this season on the very first weekend allowed by the KHSAA. Over the previous two years, only Bullitt East played the first week with Bullitt Central and North Bullitt starting the following week after conducting two scrimmages.

The KHSAA allows schools to play 10 regular season football games in an 11-week block. The option being that a school can conduct two scrimmages and then play 10 straight weeks or they can have one scrimmage and then play 10 games over the next 11 weeks.

That option started two seasons ago and it was hard for a lot of coaches to give up that second scrimmage. Still, after seeing how it affected some other teams, a lot of schools in this new two-year scheduling block have opted for the one scrimmage and the earlier start. The big selling point being the ‘open’ date somewhere in the middle of the season.

Most of the ‘open’ dates are coming right before or right after the district games are played.

The open dates allow time for injuries to heal and by the time of the ‘open’ dates, coaches have a better grasp on what they need to work on during a few extra practices to improve their teams.

Plus, with 95 percent of the teams in the state making the post-season, the non-district games just don’t carry nearly the weight that they once did, especially locally. In the past, Bullitt Central and Bullitt East were playing the third week of the season and that was an important game early in the season. The game is just as important now, if not more so since the schools are in the same district, but now the game is not played until mid-October.

No Volleyball Changes

After all the teeth-nashing and angry words, the realignment of a number of sports will not take affect during this school year other than in basketball.

First up, it has long been thought that volleyball was going to adapt the same alignment across the state as basketball. That still has not happened, much to the happiness of the Bullitt County schools, especially Bullitt East.

Again this fall, Bullitt County schools will be part of the Eighth Region in volleyball and they will compete with each other in the 29th District along with Spencer County.

So, that means no Mercy as a district opponent for Bullitt East this fall and no Mercy as a regional foe for any of the Bullitt County schools. Mercy won the state volleyball tournament two years ago and was the runner-up to Assumption last season.

Still, Bullitt County has had trouble climbing the mountain to compete with the Oldham County schools in volleyball in the Eighth Region. However, the two Bullitt County teams that advanced to the regional tournament last season each won its first round matches before losing to Oldham County teams in the semi-finals. That still gives the local teams something to shoot for during the fall.

There are no private high schools in the Eighth Region. Private schools...Catholic private schools...have won every state volleyball tournament to this point.

North Bullitt was the very first public school to win a state (slo-pitch) softball championship back in 1988 and that sport (now fast-pitch of course), is competitive between public and private schools.

That day has not yet come for volleyball and honestly, it appears to be a lifetime away. It would be great if a Bullitt County school could make that step forward, but that is still a work in progress.