In the world of college athletics, the concept of “Ready, Set, Go!” really doesn’t apply. It’s more like “Go! Go Faster! Hang On!” One day, it’s summer, you may have a few student-athletes hanging around, and you’re working to prepare for their arrival, but it’s still summer. It’s busy and there’s plenty to do, but the pace is steady and somewhat relaxed.
Then, one day….BAM!! You suddenly have 100-plus student-athletes scurrying around campus preparing for preseason practice, getting their physicals, completing eligibility forms, meetings, and all of the other fun stuff associated with the start of practice. They weren’t there the day before, and there seemed to be no warning.
At that point, you’re moving at a slightly quicker pace, and as teams begin practice, there’s a little more life on campus, a little more energy. Then, eight or 10 days later, the rest of the students and student-athletes arrive, and the pace picks up. You’re moving a lot faster now, with all sports ramping up for practice. Things begin to get a little hectic, “to do” lists start getting longer rather than shorter at the end of each day.
And then, although you have schedules and you know it’s coming, one day there’s this explosion of activity, as fall sports teams begin playing games. At that point, you’re just hanging on and enjoying the ride. We will have 11 sports competing in their competitive season this fall, with the other 14 practicing and some playing scrimmages during their non-championship season.
With 11 sports competing, there are almost daily games, many of them at home, and sometimes multiple contests in a single day. Stories on the website that were from and center on Friday are usually buried eight or nine (or more!) stories deep by Monday morning. I have numerous calendars, schedules, and other reminders around my office. I don’t need them…I can usually tell you the dates teams play from memory. It’s an exciting time, a hectic time, and even after 17 years as a coach and administrator, there’s an extent to which it sneaks up on me every year.
In addition to the general enthusiasm for the start of the seasons, there are a lot of reasons to be excited about fall sports at King in 2014. Our women’s soccer program, fresh off the program’s first trip to the Conference Carolinas semifinals in 2013, returns several key players, including the top four-leading scorers from 2013, and has added a solid recruiting class into the fold. On the men’s side, returning players accounted for 88 percent of the team’s goals last year, and have added a strong recruiting class that will look to build on the program’s fifth place finish in Conference Carolinas.
Women’s volleyball will face a tough task in improving upon a 32-5 season which saw them take a share of the Conference Carolinas regular season championship and finish as runner-up in the postseason tournament, but like the soccer teams, the nucleus returns and a talented group of recruits has joined the team. Women’s cross country, coming off of back-to-back Conference Carolinas championships, faces an equally challenging task, as the team will feature an all-freshman lineup. The men’s cross country team returns four runners from a team that made its second consecutive NCAA National Championships appearance in 2013, and has added to that another gifted class of recruits.
It happens suddenly – one day it’s steady and relaxed, the next it’s crazy, but incredibly exciting. I can’t wait to watch our student-athletes battle and compete this fall on the fields, courses, and courts. I’ll be there supporting them, working hard behind the scenes, but mostly just hanging on for the ride.
Following his career at King, baseball player Cory Rhodes has continued his career, playing for the Haysville Aviators of the Walter Johnson Baseball League in Kansas. The Aviators are located in Haysville, Kansas, and finished third in the league’s south division with a record of 23-14 in the regular season.
Earlier this week, Rhodes and the Aviators began play in the National Baseball Congress (NBC) World Series in Wichita, Kansas. The Kissimmee, Florida native earned the start in the Aviators third game, after they won their first two contests. As Tornado fans would expect, Rhodes tossed a complete game, allowing just one run and struck out 13 to lead Haysville to the 6-1 victory over the San Diego Force on Tuesday.
Just a day later, on Wednesday, Rhodes made an appearance in relief, throwing one and two-thirds innings to help the Aviators top the Sedalia Bombers to reach the championship week of the NBC World Series. So far in the NBC World Series, Rhodes has made three appearances in four team games, going 2-0 with a 0.77 ERA. In 11 and two-thirds innings, Rhodes has only allowed six hits and struck out 14 batters with zero walks.
With the win on Wednesday, Rhodes and the Aviators advanced to championship week of the NBC World Series. Haysville begins play in the double elimination championship week on Saturday when they take on a team from Washington, the Everett Merchants at 8:00 a.m.
For more information on the NBC World Series, click here.