DENAIR - Inside his office, Denair High football coach Therion Gregory was fixing a helmet for one of his players. His office sits right next to the school's football field, so on this day, he has a clear view of his team practicing. At the moment, the Coyotes were stretching.
As a group of parents and other supporters of the Turlock Youth Football League watched nearby, a Turlock High offensive lineman was on the verge of puking. He was down on one knee, his hand to his stomach.
The other day, Steve Feaver walked to his car after practice. Right before he stepped inside, he spotted a familiar face. It was one of Turlock High's campus maintenance employees, who made small talk with the Bulldogs boys' water polo coach.
This week signifies the beginning of the fall sports season. Athletes from Pitman High, Turlock High, Turlock Christian, Denair High and Hilmar High all worked out underneath the sun for the past two days, and they will continue on for the next few weeks. The first official game in any sport won't start until Aug. 26, so for now, footballers, tennis players, cross country runners, water polo athletes, golfers and volleyball players all are working hard to prepare for the upcoming season.
In June, Allison Kuchan graduated from Pitman High without truly knowing if she'd play softball at the college level - a childhood goal. A few weeks earlier, she helped lead the Pride's softball team to its first playoff game in the school's short history.
On July 7, a group of Hilmar High students woke up with football on their minds. That's what happens when you're a Yellowjacket. They were in the middle of summer workouts, a very crucial element in preparing for the fall season. Their main focus were strengths and conditionings, with much of the responsibility sitting on the shoulders of assistant coach Franky Silveira.
Like most places in the Central Valley last week, Turlock was hit with a relentless heat wave with the temperatures reaching triple digits. Luckily for the Pitman High football team, the Pride had the week off.