MY PITCH

Looking forward to the fall

By ALEX SPONSELLER
Posted 9/16/20

Finally, it is starting to feel like fall. Does it feel completely normal? Nope, but the last couple weeks I feel like we have begun to turn a corner in taking another step toward normalcy. A lot of it is because the Rhode Island Interscholastic League

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MY PITCH

Looking forward to the fall

Posted

Finally, it is starting to feel like fall. Does it feel completely normal? Nope, but the last couple weeks I feel like we have begun to turn a corner in taking another step toward normalcy.

A lot of it is because the Rhode Island Interscholastic League gave the green light for most fall sports to return. Some of it is also the NBA and NHL playoffs, while the MLB continues to roll along and the NFL kicked things off this past weekend. The cooler weather doesn’t hurt either.

In terms of fall predictions and storylines, I will wait another week or two before delving in, but for now I would like to once again remind everyone that we will have fall sports and that there is much reason to feel optimistic about sports and life in general.

Am I going to miss high school football this fall? Of course, football is my favorite sport and to not be able to celebrate the Friday night lights will be a bummer for sure. However, it will be interesting to see how things unfold if the football season is indeed in the spring. I anticipate it looking much similar, maybe just different weather.

But moving forward with the sports that we do have, I am very much looking forward to getting back to work with a full, regular slate of events.

I have said it in the past, but there is nothing like covering cross country in the fall.

There is nothing like going to the park or the woods and finding your vantage points for photos and whatnot, being completely surrounded by nature. Especially once you get later in the season and the weather is cool, the leaves start turning. Although I am not particularly an avid fan of cross country, covering it gives you a dose of the outdoors like no other sport does.

Hanging out in the woods with perfect temperatures, watching kids in a foot race? Sign me up. 

Perhaps the most underrated sport in my opinion when it comes to excitement is soccer.

Soccer is always overlooked, much thanks to football, but I expect this to be a big year for the sport this fall. I understand that the sport may not be as physically intense as other sports, but make no mistake about it, there are plenty of local teams that are exciting to watch and will be competing for championships in the coming months. Once again, I will get into that later.

But last year, covering the soccer playoffs at Cumberland High School was fantastic. I know that we all love seeing high-scoring shootouts, but there is a certain tension that you feel in a low-scoring soccer match that gets the blood pumping. Especially in the playoffs when teams are evenly matched … I am excited to see our teams hit the field and get the opportunity to play this season. Do not underestimate the excitement that comes along with soccer, that is why it is probably the biggest sport internationally. 

On a similar note, some of the best games I have ever covered have been field hockey.

Not trying to short change field hockey, but pretty much everything I just said about soccer applies here.

Do not underestimate the power of a low-scoring game, embrace the high-scoring ones. Field hockey provides both, especially in the postseason. I mean, just look at the annual results during the recent championships. Every year the field hockey playoffs deliver and I am ready to get back out there to cover it. Soccer and field hockey are two very entertaining sports that just happen to fall during the same season as the country’s biggest sport.

Finally, we get to tennis.

I love covering high school tennis and you should all give it a chance as a fan. Learn the local players and go watch a match. It’s totally free, and Rhode Island has some quality tennis. There are always one or two matches that I look forward to covering, specifically because I know two top talents will be squaring off. Also, tennis will likely be the only sport without COVID-19 restrictions, so it should look pretty much identical to the norm.

One last shout out here: volleyball.

Although I typically like covering sports outdoors, I am a sucker for a loud gym with a packed audience. There is nothing like high school volleyball and being in that environment. It is like basketball. The gyms are small, there is not a bad seat in the house, you are right on top of the action.

I am glad that girls volleyball will be played in the third season along with football, but I will miss those games this fall. Also, unified volleyball will be put on hold. I hope to see schools come up with safe alternatives for kids with disabilities this fall. I have been a very vocal supporter of unified sports and their importance to our schools and communities, so to see kids not get offered something in return would be a shame. 

We are now just weeks away from the return of high school sports. It has been a long time coming, and although we will be collectively holding our breath as we try to navigate through the first season back, there is plenty to look forward to.

Before I sign off, let me give you my NFL thoughts for the week,

As for the Patriots, I approved of the approach.

Cam Newton has never been a big passer, the Pats do not have receivers. Instead of overthinking it and trying to make something out of nothing, Belichick and McDaniels played to their strengths. Solid play up front, run the ball effectively, let Newton do his thing, and play tight defense and special teams. Worked like a charm.

Down south, Tom Brady and the Bucs laid an egg in New Orleans. I am not concerned though, it is a new-look team that essentially did not have an offseason to prepare. Not that Brady and company looked good, they didn’t, but I am going to give them a few more weeks before I jump ship. I still think this is a playoff team with an actual shot at a Super Bowl.

sports,

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