SIOUX CITY | Bob Goodvin compares the first day of football practice to Christmas in August.

“It’s an exciting time of the year,” said East’s head football coach, who’s looking forward to the start of preseason drills that much.

“I love the beginning of football season. Everyone’s excited, everyone’s optimistic. You get to see the hard work from the winter, the spring and the summer pay off. We’ve had a good offseason. We’ve made good strides in the weight room and with our speed and agility. I’m excited to see how it correlates to the football field.”

Football teams throughout the state will begin the first official day of practice Monday. Volleyball drills also start Monday along with practices for boys and girls cross country, girls swimming and in Class 4A, boys golf, though 3A squads from Bishop Heelan and Sergeant Bluff-Luton, as members of the 4A-dominated Missouri River Activities Conference, will also compete.

Goodvin is motivated to return to the Class 4A state playoffs, something he guided the program to in his first seven years as head coach, but was unable to do last fall.

Like others who hold similar positions, Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley football coach Cory Brandt also relishes the opening day of the football season. However, the coach of the defending Class 3A state champions also enjoys the challenge of rebuilding.

That’s the theme for the Nighthawks. Only three starters return.

“Two years ago, we graduated 30 seniors,” said Brandt. “For a lot of them last year, it was the first time for them to show what they can do. The goal for our program is for new kids to step up and be consistent, step up and buy into our scheme. It’s fun to see who’s going to step up in those aspects.”

Fundamentals are part of that first day of football and volleyball practice. Sioux Center volleyball coach Julie Oldenkamp returns 10 letterwinners, including five seniors to a program which hopes for a second straight Class 3A state tournament appearance.

Despite the returning experience, a review of the fundamentals has always been a part of Oldenkamp’s first-day routine.

“We’ll work a lot on ball control,” she said. “We’ll work on consistency. Fundamentals is where we start. We have to try to get the freshmen and the sophomores into the program up to speed.

"We’ll do team-building activities in practice. I believe sports should be fun. Two-a-days is tough and it can get hot, but I want them to enjoy it.”

Unity Christian boys cross country coach Karl Kaemingk returns only two runners from a program which a year ago was the Class 2A state runner-up. A runner’s club during the summer is something that has always been part of a program that Kaemingk has guided for 30 years.

“Our juniors and seniors come in around the 300 or 250 mark for miles a week during the summer,” said Kaemingk. “They’ll come in with a strong base. It’s fun to see new leaders step up. You never know who it will be. Sometimes it comes as a surprise. It could be someone who ran JV a year ago. It’s fun to watch it come together.”

Fortunately, the first week of practice won’t include the heat and humidity which occurred much of the summer. Afternoon temperatures early this week are forecasted to reach the low 80s.

Still, coaches come prepared. Fans are utilized indoors in gymnasiums for volleyball players who will get regular water breaks similar to football athletes.

“We have a kids swimming pool that we fill with water in case a player gets overheated, knock on wood,” said Goodvin. “We’ve never had to use it. We give plenty of water breaks. Every kid is free to drink water at any time.”

Kaemingk is encouraging his runners to bring water bottles during the week. Brandt typically runs practices in the mornings to beat the heat.

“They get a ton of water breaks in each segment,” he said. “We’ll cut practices short if we have to. We take care of the kids to see how they act and how they respond. Some of them lose fluid more than others. We need to get acclimated to the heat because you know that first Friday night can get hotter than ever.”

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