Some general observations while getting excited for fall sports
n It's hard not to think about the hundreds of central Pennsylvania football players strapping on the pads in preparation for the 2012 season. Thankfully, the weather has been cooperative, and not nearly as hot as it could be for pre-season two-a-days.
The recent crisp, clear evenings make football season feel even closer; can't wait for the leaves to start turning colors as the days get longer, and Friday night games to become part of our weekly schedule.
Communities are gearing up for the central Pennsylvania tradition, from cheerleading squads to booster clubs to bands. In no time, area gridirons will become the gathering place for entire towns, under the Friday night lights.
While summer practice draws particular attention to the dedication of area football squads, battling through long days of workouts with big hits and hot helmets, they are certainly not the only athletes preparing for the fall seasons.
Drive around the region and you'll see students on soccer fields and tennis courts, running through towns and fields preparing for cross country, and showing up at local gyms for volleyball practice. All of these athletes are looking forward to the soon-to-come day when their games, matches and races start to count for real. Their crowds may be smaller than football games, but their commitment is as great.
Fans should try to make it a point to get to their local high school and root for the home teams. You might be surprised at how exciting a girls' soccer game can be.
n Fall also means hunting season, during which we may see a rise in the sport of archery, thanks to two popular movies.
"The Hunger Games" and Disney's "Brave" both feature characters who are experts in using their bow and arrows, so it's no surprise that the USA Archery Team reports a growing interest in the sport throughout the country.
Katniss Everdeen, the "Games" heroine, uses archery to obtain food for her family, and to win the brutal, futuristic fight-to-the-death game in the story. The first movie just hit stores with two more to come, so interest in archery for teens, particularly girls, may continue to skyrocket.
In "Brave," Princess Merida challenges and defeats the three young princes vying for her hand in marriage, proving not only her archery expertise, but her indomitable independence; an admirable quality for little girls to learn.
The seasons are changing, bringing and end to the summer vacation and a start to the frenzy of fall, in on gyms, fields and forests of Central Pennsylvania, and we wouldn't have it any other way.
Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at email@example.com.