Hurry up and wait is the approach for late-starting sports


The tennis, cross country and golf teams are ready to get to work after a long summer.

The SDSU football and volleyball teams hold fall camps starting in early August. The soccer team has already played in two games, plus a tournament.

Others play by different rules.

For the SDSU golf, tennis, and cross country teams, the first day of practice coincides with the first day of classes.

“The biggest challenge (to starting late) is that everything is so hectic. They’re worried about class, meetings, practice…the kids get thrown into the fire. There isn’t much of an adjustment period,” new head tennis coach Michael Engdahl said.

With cross country and men’s golf events scheduled within the first week of classes, it’s somewhat surprising that the practices don’t start sooner. Luckily, we have head cross country coach Rod DeHaven to put things into perspective:

“I don’t know of a cross country team that’s running a cover-two zone right now, and because we’re not running a cover-two, that’s probably why we can get away with it”

Starting practices so close to the first match, meet, or game may seem like a stressful time, but the three head coaches who were interviewed didn’t seem too worried about how their athletes would handle getting back into the swing of things.

“It’s nothing to get all worked up about. If our kids do the work in the summer, we don’t need to bring them in…it’s all part of the learning process,” DeHaven said.

Head golf coach Jared Baszler said he actually prefers not starting practices  until classes begin, so his golfers can play in tournaments that run up until the time school starts. For example, Jackrabbits men’s golfer David Smith played in the USGA Amatuer Championship just last week in Erin Hills, Wis., among 312 of the best men’s amateur golfers in the world.

Baszler also pointed out the fact that golf and tennis have two seasons: one in the fall, one in the spring.

“It works fine for us. It just makes it a little hectic, this year especially because typically we have two full weeks of practice, but this year we’re in a new tournament,” Baszler said.

The men’s and women’s tennis teams are the late bloomers, as they don’t have events scheduled until Sept. 23 and 30, respectively. That doesn’t mean they won’t be stressing about the start of their season and school. Engdahl said on the men’s side, they have 12 possible players to fill nine spots, so the team will have a “tryout-type atmosphere” in the month leading up to their first match.

The cross country team begins the year at the North Dakota Double Dual in Grand Forks, N.D. on Sept. 3.

For golf, the first tournament for the men is Sept. 5-6 at the Battle in the Tetons in Victor, Idaho, while the women are set to compete at the Hawkeye Invitational in Iowa City, Iowa, Sept 10-11.

“It’s nothing the kids can’t handle. I know they’ve been working hard all summer and we’re ready to get off to a running start,” Engdahl said.