August’s end ushers in autumn of new reputations

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Kyle Brennan

The end of August is by far one of the most awkward times of the year. It ranks right up there with the second half of the first week of January and pretty much the entire month of March as the points on the calendar when you think, man, can’t we fast forward/rewind life here?

After New Year’s Day, January pretty much drags (except football playoffs days). For some reason, people feel the need to continue the holiday spirit into the first week of that month. That’s good for nothing. It’s depressing.

The only good thing about March is its madness. It’s the time of year when you’re sick of winter and just want spring to come, but March never makes up its mind. And there are no holidays in March (I’m Irish, but St. Patrick’s Day does not meet all holiday standards).

The end of August is just weird. Students getting ready to head back to school always want to try to squeeze in their last crack at the beach or mini golf trip. We all had the friends with whom “we have to hang out this summer,” which of course never ends up happening. This is the time when that sinks in.

But the end of August is also the time when we can start looking forward to what the fall has to offer. Autumn used to be my least favorite season of the year because school started up and I couldn’t use the pool anymore. Neither applies to me anymore so I don’t mind moving quickly and turning to the ninth page of the calendar.

So as I sat in the barber’s chair at Kellie’s Kuts (I don’t let just anybody handle this hair) on Tuesday morning, I figured it was about time to start thinking of how to make this seamless transition between summer and fall. Of course, my inspiration came from the label on some bottle of hair product that never came near my head.

“You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.”

Those, friends, are great American Henry Ford’s words. And they’re quite appropriate for all the local athletes who have already started or are about to begin fall sports practice.

Everybody will have a clean slate when the first games of the year start Sept. 11. Defending champions are 0-0. Basement dwellers are 0-0. We’re all 0-0.

Ken, Ernie and I will be prying words out of coaches’ and players’ mouths in the next few weeks, trying to see how each team will try to build (or destroy) its reputation from last season.

Most of them will tell us how last year doesn’t matter because this year is this year. One game at a time. Practice makes perfect. No, perfect practice makes perfect. You know the coachspeak.

Maybe those coaches want to hide a little bit. Maybe they want to seem modest while disguising their real goals. Maybe they really believe some of what they say.

Maybe they actually believe that you can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do. (You’re welcome for the excuse.)

We have a number of local teams who had historically good seasons last fall and some who wish their seasons were historic. They all enter this fall winless and lossless.

Can the Woodland boys soccer team repeat its phenomenal championship season without many of its leaders? Is this the year the Woodland girls finally break through with perhaps the best set of attackers in the league?

How about Naugatuck soccer? The perennial powers didn’t bring home some of the hardware to which they’ve become accustomed to doing. They’re always in the mix (they’ve built that reputation by what they’ve done) so we’d assume the same this fall.

Woodland’s volleyball team and Naugatuck’s boys cross country teams also posted perfect regular seasons, but there are plenty of new faces on those squads, too.

And of course there are the football teams. The Copper Division has gone through Woodland and Naugatuck most years since the current format started six years ago. Can the Hawks recapture the spread magic that helped build their reputation last decade? Can the new players who hope to join the Greyhounds help reclaim the proud reputation of the Garnet and Grey?

We’ll see, on those fields and in these pages. Practice began this week, but the reputation building must wait.

Kyle Brennan is a contributing writer for the Citizen’s News.