August brings anticipation in the air


Some summertime sports observations, while wondering how August came upon us so fast…

While we don’t want to wish away these beautiful summertime days, fall and football is fast approaching. As soon as July 4 is over, stores are brimming with back-to-school displays and the new styles of clothing.

Weight training and heat acclimation practices will give way to full-fledged two-a-days for scholastic football teams, with the fall sports schedule less than one month away. This is a great time of year for high school athletics, when team building and skill development take center stage, weeks before the pressures of the classroom return. It is during these weeks that teams share experiences: difficult drills, exhausting conditioning, meal breaks, even songs on the radio, all create memories that also build bonds. It is those relationships that help, in part, to make good teams great, and great teams champions.

There is something special about being in school during the summer, for fall sports practice, band or cheerleading camp. Seeing chairs stored on top of desks, lockers empty, lights low: it’s like having a backstage pass to a big show, before the audience gets to come barreling through the doors.

We hate to see summer wane, but there is an excitement in the air for school (and sports) to start again.

County fairs continue throughout the region, with special kinds of competition. Our heritage is on display as youth show animals that they have raised for months, dreaming of blue ribbons.

Just as athletics teaches leadership, responsibility and dedication, so too do FFA and 4H clubs. Students commit to taking care of their show animals every day, regardless of weather or social calendars. They form a team with their animals, their parents and their organizations; many even camp out throughout the fairs. The experience, win or lose, builds character.

And then there are the other “sports” at the fairs: tractor pulls and demolition derbies, and the ever-popular rodeo. More reflections of rural Pennsylvania and the competitive values that have shaped our society for generations.

This summer is one without the Olympics, which we were devouring around this time last year.

And now comes the news that the U.S. will host the Summer Games again: 2028 in Los Angeles. The 1984 Games in L.A. prompted many in my generation to fall in love with the Olympics: the sportsmanship, the pageantry and especially the patriotism.

The opening ceremonies inspired the release of composer John Williams’ “Olympic Fanfare,” which remains the soundtrack of the games, at least the U.S. even all these years later. It will be a thrill to have the Summer Games return to America after stops in Tokyo and (likely) Paris in a celebration of competition and hopefully by then, peace.

Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at Her column appears on Tuesdays.