Coaches have been busy planning practices, buying equipment, sorting out meals and housing and generally trying to create an environment where the foundations of a successful season can be laid down.
For their part, the athletes, at least the diligent ones, have spent the summer playing and training in anticipation of getting back together with their teammates and embarking on a journey that they hope will lead them to the promised land of victory and success.
These are great days; the one time of the year where college kids and their coaches can be so hopelessly and happily immersed in their sport that they actually forget what day it is and how long they have been in camp, all that matters is the next practice, the next meal, the next nap or who can get to the ice bath fastest.
It is also a time where anything is possible; nobody has played a game yet and every team in the country, on paper at least, is equal. Of course, the notion that every program in the country has similar talent or has the right to anticipate success to the same degree is fanciful but, for those two weeks, until they have been proven otherwise, every player and coach is entitled to indulge in the reverie of a magical and perhaps miraculous season.
The realities of the regular season dictate that not every team will sustain the euphoria and hopefulness of these early days; some will build and soar, others will falter and fade. There will be wins, losses and ties, injuries, bad weather, poor refereeing, bumpy pitches, long bus rides and more hours logged in Olive Gardens and modest hotels than one would care to remember but all in all, win or lose, we wouldn't have it any other way.
I have had the good fortune of experiencing twenty-five such pre-seasons and they have been precursors to every conceivable type of season, some great, some disappointing and some just plain awful. The good news is that regardless of how the previous season went we can look forward to the next August and the two-a-days, the fitness tests, the team pictures, the meetings and, most important of all, the meaningful relationships that make this crazy carousel worth while.