GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

December 12, 2012

Winter sports scene is where it's at

On HS Sports
Conor Walsh

---- — This week is a good week, folks.

With the winter sports season opening up, it marks the start of the best three months of the high school sports season.

We live in one of the few areas of the country that gets to enjoy the full winter sports scene. Enjoy it.

Between hockey and basketball, which will both get into full swing over the next week, there are entertaining games to be taken in nearly every night of the week.

Both sports are played fast. There’s a ton of skill involved. Venues tend to be full, and the atmosphere reflects that.

Now, this is not meant to downplay the fall and the spring. Friday night football is an unshakable tradition, and with soccer and field hockey in the mix, there’s plenty of excitement during the fall months.

But it tends to live and die with football, and with games being played just once a week, that, in my mind at least, leaves a void.

The same can be said for baseball, lacrosse, softball, etc. All are a great take.

In the winter months, though, things just feel different.

Perhaps it’s because the weather in these parts tends to be terrible. I don’t know about you, but when the whole world is iced over, windy and cold, I tend to look for any excuse to stay indoors.

Judging by the crowds that frequent local rinks and basketball courts, I’m not alone on that one.

Take the Dorothy Talbot Rink at O’Maley Middle School. The energy inside that place is palpable any time Gloucester or Rockport takes the ice.

There’s just something about The Tank. The stands are always full, the music’s always loud, and the play on the ice generally tends to justify the turnout.

The same can be said for the basketball courts across Cape Ann and the North Shore. These field houses provide a small, closed-in setting for fans to take in games.

And, just like at The Tank, the noise and atmosphere provided by these intimate venues tend to make them a good place to be.

Maybe it’s as simple as the fact that, in the winter, there’s just less to do. In the fall and the spring, the fact that outdoor activities still exist and the sun hasn’t all-but set by the time people get out of work or school gives people some options.

Those options just aren’t there during the winter, and sports offer a way to fill that void.

Then you have the games in front of you. Both hockey and basketball are emotional games, especially in high school, and these young athletes wear their hearts on their sleeves.

They’re both just great sports too. Hockey combines just about everything that makes a sport great. Speed, finesse, physicality, teamwork, passion -- and with no NHL, at least for now, rink rats are sure to be thirsting for some hockey.

Same thing with basketball. There’s something almost artistic about watching a team run an efficient offense or lock down an opponent with a zone defense or a press.

For every triumph a team enjoys, a heartbreak seems to follow. Great games are followed up by duds. Comebacks are far from uncommon.

So enjoy the next couple of months of great local sports, ladies and gentlemen. I know I will.