It seems to be kind of a trend this year. I’m getting sort of Belichick’ed, in a way.
In fact, just last week, after the Indian River-Stephen Decatur volleyball scrimmage, IR head coach Jim Barnes even said something along the lines of: “I might have to pull a Belichick on that one.”
The coaches aren’t saying much about any Charles Dickens-type (great) expectations, and I can’t really blame them. No one wants to make any Joe Namath-type (possibly inebriated) guarantees and then not deliver. Or, what would be almost worse, make the guarantee and then deliver, and either look like either some kind of prophet or some kind of pompous egomaniac (you know, kind of like Bill Belichick).
The fictional Ernest Hemingway in the fictional “Midnight in Paris” claimed that: “If you’re going to be a writer, declare yourself the best writer,” which anyone who knows me knows and will tell you that I basically do that all the time — the declaring yourself the best writer thing.
But I think it’s probably different for sports.
Saying “We’re going to accomplish X” or “We’re going to win Y” is kind of probably not smart, considering that pretty much any other letter of the alphabet can get pretty much Elmo’ed throughout the course of the season, and the pressure can create, like, a lot of potential anxiety, which, on the field or court or track or wherever else, can obviously impact performance, especially during games that a team is “supposed” to win.
The “one game at a time” approach seems to be the most effective in making sure mishaps like Iceland beating England in the Euro 2016 or the Mighty Ducks beating Iceland in “D2: The Mighty Ducks” don’t happen, and coaches keep their teams in the right mindset.
Local sports reporters, however, don’t have that problem. In fact, sometimes we don’t even cover one game at a time (e.g. that time last spring when there was a baseball, boys’ lacrosse and girls’ lacrosse games, and a boys’ and girls’ tennis match, and it was baseball’s Senior Night all at pretty much the same exact time) much less zero in on one.
So after checking some teams so far this fall, I’m not really ready to make any Joe Namath guarantees either, but I can definitely still say that I have some Great Expectations, and the following teams should, too.
Football — The Indians haven’t won the South title since 2014, when they clinched their fourth in a row.
This year’s senior lead squad is looking primed to return the title in head coach Phil Townsend’s second year at the helm but will have their work cut out for them in a competitive division.
They’ve also got a good shot at knocking off a few of these non-conference Division I schools, and while not even Namath can be sure how it will all shake out, I’m making sure to have my DIAA press pass for a possible playoff run, and that Krash has his microphone (and a fresh green-and-gold bandana) ready, too.
Field hockey — The field hockey team has been on the up-and-up for the past few years, with head coach Jodi Stone running the show, after the program was kind of on the down-and-down, so to speak, for a stretch before that.
Every year, they’ve gotten better, but this year just feels different. It might be the one that all the hard work really starts to show in the win column and a few more game-winning goals in OT wouldn’t be so bad to get to see, either.
Volleyball — This season also has a different feel on the courts in Barnes’ second year at HC. They won’t say it, or look much further past their first matchup against CR, but this team is looking ready to make a run at the South title for the first time since I don’t even know when. (Todd? Anyone?)
They’ve also got some cool new cheers, and new warm-up music that I really want to dislike but don’t for some reason. Volleyball games should be pretty fun this fall.
Cross-country — I haven’t been out to the cross-country trails yet this season, considering that their first meet isn’t scheduled until Sept. 21, but you can bet that Maj. Ryman is getting the troops in shape after a historic season in 2015.
Soccer — The division. The conference. The state. This team is about as close as you’ll get to a Hollywood Joe guarantee, ironically coached by the only Bill Billichik fan that I know.
The seniors on this squad will be looking for their third state title and, of course, for some redemption against rival CR when the season gets under way on Tuesday, Sept. 13.
I’ll see everyone at IR for the kickoff against Linganore on Friday. It’s gonna be a green-and-gold kind of fall, which I feel pretty confident that I can guarantee.