Despite the dog days of summer heat, high school fall sports practices for local football and volleyball teams officially began on Monday, August 2.
More than 60 Tiger Sharks of Port St. Joe from grades 7-12 gathered on the practice field at 4 p.m. Eastern time while close to 50 Wewa Gators kicked off their practice at 4 p.m. Central time.
Port St. Joe assistant coach Tracy Browning said that they expected “43 Friday night dressers, with 14 six-quarter players” among the close to 65 total players. As a precaution, Rick Williams, a trainer with Tallahassee Orthopedic Clinic, was on the field with a “wet bulb” to check both the heat and the heat index.
“We have a tub of ice, a tent, and players can get water whenever they want to,” said Browning.
Gator coach Bobby Johns expected spirited practices this week, and said “we’re practicing even if it rains.”
The Tiger Sharks convert to full pads on Wednesday, while the Gators will wait until next Monday to do so.
On Aug. 27, Port St. Joe will host Marianna in their first game, kickoff at 7:30 p.m. EST, while Wewa starts a week earlier on August 20 at home against Brookwood Academy of Thomasville, Georgia, at 7 p.m. CT.
Both schools’ volleyball teams also held their first official practices on Monday. Coach Lissa Walker led 29 total Tiger Shark players through a series of drills in the gym as she started her initial season at Port St. Joe.
The Tiger Sharks’ first match will be on August 19 at the Sneads Pre-Season Classic.
Starting her second year as Wewa’s volleyball coach, Nikita Andrews and her players had to conduct practice “in the grass” due to the gym floor being sealed.
A college volleyball player both at Gulf Coast Community College and Warner University, in Lake Wales, Andrews will be holding practice at Honeyville Park on Tuesday and Friday this week until they can get back into the gym next week.
Although only eight girls were at practice Monday, Andrews expects a total of seven on varsity and nine on junior varsity, and even though the numbers are small “they should be scrappy and fighters this year.”
The Gators start their season by hosting Rutherford on Thursday, August 19, with the JV game at 5 p.m. Central and Varsity at 6 p.m.