Summer is a unique time for sports. Athletes do not stop competing once their respective school season ends -- they continue to better themselves for the next season knowing that the offseason begins as soon as their final game finishes.
Most high school athletes are in the weight room increasing their bench, improving their speed and other attributes.
Others are soaking up rays on the beach with their friends and families, while that is fine, there comes a time when the summertime fun stops and preparation time starts.
When I was playing football in high school, the seniors would run non-sanctioned "captain's practices" and gather up the team for conditioning workouts.
In the upcoming weeks, more-and-more fall teams will start their captain's practices.
Local boys' and girls' basketball teams are competing in summer leagues with the season five months away.
The truth is summer will be over sooner than we would like to think. Brace yourself ... summer is coming to an end.
School is about to start and coaches are in their offices preparing for the upcoming season.
Evaluating who is coming back this season and what gaps they must fill. It is common nature.
Players who wait until the first day of organized practice to train for the upcoming season are at a grave disadvantage.
Nowadays, sports are a year-round affair.
The three-sport athlete is an uncommon occurrence at some of the bigger schools where talent pools are deep.
Most elite players focus on one sport and play year round. Obviously, the more game experience you get against different competition, the better you will become when the interscholastic season starts.
For me, captain's practices were always telling of which players took the time to push themselves in the weight room and those who chose to relax and soak up the rays. Kids who came into football practice out of shape would be whining to coaches asking when the next water break was.
We were all tired, but none of my returning teammates would've ever thought to complain to coaches because they were tired and out of shape.
By week three, those kids who were out of shape eventually caught up to those of us who lifted and ran in the offseason.
But, those first two weeks in preparing for a new season are crucial to the psychological makeup of a team.
Every coach and player comes into a season with that expectation that this will be their year.
But, when the games start happening, all of the preseason hype blow out the window like a piece of trash on the highway.
A coach can always tell who their core players are going to be based on their performance the prior season. But, it's those role players who find their niche in the off season through their hard work and dedidication.
Playing sports is like learning to ride a bike, the more-and-more you do it, the better you become.
High school athletes who compete in summer leagues are exposed to levels of competition equal or better to what they would face in the regular interscholastic season.
For football players, camps and skills combines were usually the way to go, but recent additions of seven-vs.-seven teams in the area have given local gridiron teams a way to go against tough competition in a summer setting.
When the heat in July and August is dialed up to 94 degrees and you feel the soles of your sneakers burning the bottoms of your feet, think of how easy it will be to run when the temperatures drop. Fall is just around the corner.
For fall sports fans like myself, I cannot wait.
Bring on the Friday night football, the soccer rivalries and field hockey. I hate to say it, but the days are getting shorter. But, the anticipation for a new school year and athletics season is blossoming.
Those long hours you put in during the offseason will finally start making sense when you are able to complete warmups without even breaking a sweat. Many coaches have said to me that I would get what I put into the sport.
Was I a scholarship athlete? Not by a long shot, but I sure did work my tail off. Knowing that you did all you could to improve your game should make you feel accomplished..
Have a great rest of your summer because pretty soon after 2:30 p.m. on school days , you will be on the e playing field. You and your teammates will be catching up on what happened over the summer. For you seniors out there, this might be your last hoorah. So, make it a memorable season.
And, I will be right there with you with my camera and clipboard in hand..
Follow Ed Niser on Twitter/Tout:@EdNiser.