This week it gets real. The season starts once again for CSUB Athletics as a few of the fall teams play exhibitions to sharpen their skills for the start of the quickly-approaching regular-season.
It’s time to grind again. The summer is nearly never long enough, although it’s not like the summer is spent relaxing entirely. Preparation for the upcoming season is always on everyone’s mind, with a project or two on all of our plates. Some of us have bigger plates, but then again, look at me — I’ve always had a big appetite.
This season will mark the seventh year on campus for yours truly. That's crazy considering I’ve almost spent as much time at CSUB as I did working at the radio stations owned by American General Media. It was eight years there, but eight years that helped pave the way for my current position. Seven years seems like a lifetime when you say it, but we all know how quickly time tends to fly.
The years don’t blend together, but crafty veterans like myself tend to find patterns. A fall season of soccer and volleyball melts quickly into the fast-paced frenetic winter season, which includes men’s basketball, a sport I am married to from November to March.
That means long travel days and time away from family. Unlike my on-campus job, I’ve been with the men’s basketball program in a radio role for going on 15 seasons. The travel doesn’t get easier, although the stakes have been much higher the last few seasons.
The winter turns into spring and baseball, which means long hours at the ballpark and several days without a break when a home stand is on the calendar. It can be a struggle, but one where I occasionally find solace in the beauty of the game and the rhythm of my work. When you’ve been on the job since the team was founded, you find ways to appreciate your surroundings.
The season is here. This fall we’ll put a few good teams on display. Our women’s soccer program is coming off a successful 2016 season, and although they were predicted to finish in the middle of the pack this year in the latest Western Athletic Conference coach’s poll, I believe they will turn some heads and surprise some people.
Men’s soccer brings in another crop of young players, so young that our head coach Richie Grant recently told me in an interview that he hopes their youth will be a strength and not a weakness. He’s banking on the bravery and with all due respect, the ignorance of his young players, to bring success.
As he put it, “they don’t know what they don’t know.” He's essentially saying with a group that doesn’t know how tough two matches in a weekend is or playing in a hot Sunday afternoon match less than 48 hours after a Friday-night battle can be, he believes they’ll be excited to play before they realize the challenges that lie ahead. What the heck, it’s as good as strategy as any.
Our volleyball team will also have a youth element as well, but three seasons after winning a WAC championship, the recruiting level has skyrocketed. As far as the old “eyeball test” is concerned, we look like a volleyball team. Height and athleticism are apparent in certain areas, speed and agility in others. It has the makings for a special group, I’m looking forward to seeing them put it all together as they tend to do each season under the direction of head coach Giovana Melo.
We’ll kick off our season with an informal gathering this Saturday as part of our Community Caravan around Kern County. Don’t forget our Tehachapi stop will be at Local Craft Beer from 5 to 7 p.m.
It’s free to the public and you will have the pleasure of hearing from head wrestling coach Manny Rivera. He’s truly excited about talking wrestling with Tehachapi and he knows the strong tradition our high school and club programs have. He’s the perfect fit for this town. I told him it was fitting that I was hosting the event and he was talking wrestling given my strong junior varsity wrestling career at THS. At least I can make people laugh.
It’s time to prepare for another season, and the caravan will be a small part of it. The rest of it is on us. Here’s to another year, another grind and if it all goes right, another championship ring along the way.
Corey Costelloe, a Tehachapi High graduate, is assistant athletics director for communications for CSUB.