It's the least wonderful time of the year. C'mon, let the Andy Williams wash over you...maybe it will even make you smile. God knows we could use some of that right now. Football season is over. Basketball season is wrapping up. Mother Nature continues to give us the middle finger with this relentless barrage of the Polar Vortex and major snowstorms. Uncle. For the love of all things holy, Uncle! Two weekends ago I was drinking margaritas with the windows down, and the next I'm ice skating outdoors the day before a storm named Titan is about to roll into town. That brief glimpse of spring I experienced two weeks ago might have been the best and worst things for my psyche.
When it comes to football, March is a month spent eagerly anticipating the potential answers during spring practice that have been festering in our heads since that final snap. We are mired in a period of speculation and "what ifs." Will we see any separation at the quarterback position? What is our depth chart going to look like at wideout? How weak are we at linebacker? I know the dude can front squat, but did J.C. eat too many pancakes last off-season? Until max testing and the commencement of spring practice, all we are left with is guessing. I find myself hoping something interesting — and non police-related — will occur during the work day, giving me even the smallest morsel of information to over-analyze. Throughout February and March I'm refreshing the tracker, mashing CTRL+R, CTRL+R, CTRL+R, CTRL+R, CTRL+R, CTRL+R God knows how many times.
CTRL+R. Still nothing of note? Oh, we got another walk-on kicker? Awesome. I wonder how much he can bench...
CTRL+R. How about now? Another 16-year old commit just re-opened his recruitment? Shocker! How many readers on TKP are parents? And of those parents, how many have teenage children? Most 16- and 17-year olds can't even make a decision on what they want for breakfast, let alone where they want to spend their college years playing ball.
CTRL+R. Maybeeeeee now? Shoot...bupkis.
We pass the time by speculating and over-analyzing every minute detail because we love this team, and the thought of days, weeks, or months with no football may in fact drive us all into a state of depression that only Derek Dooley has recently experienced. We seek ways to fill the void, ways to pass the time until more definitive information becomes available.
To make matters worse, this hasn't turned out to be a banner year for the men's basketball team, and two straight years in the cellar after so many years on the brink of taking that next step have been hard to stomach. Things have been so difficult that I am actually reading and hearing people question whether firing Seth Greenberg was the right move. It probably doesn't help that we see him on ESPN every night, pal-ing around with Dickie V and Bill Walton. It's similar to when an ex keeps popping up on your facebook timeline and you think to yourself, "Hey, they're looking pretty good..." You begin to reminisce about the good times you had and wonder what getting back together might be like, forgetting that there was a reason (or in most cases, a lot of reasons) why things didn't work out the first time and likely won't a second.
I think we're all actually beginning to miss those excruciating Selection Sundays, waiting for our name to be called, only to be disappointed and resigned to yet another NIT bid. After watching Greenberg bitch and moan about our exclusion from the field year-after-year, we are now forced to watch Seth wax poetic about UVa and Duke.
This is the least wonderful time of the year...
...Or is it?
HokieBall and the softball team are already in full swing (get it?). The track and field teams are looking to carry over their indoor accolades and continue their success outside. The women's lacrosse team is ready to make some noise in the ACC, and lets not forget about the Hokie golfers. Spring may not literally be in the air, but it is in spirit.
Behind first-year head coach Patrick Mason, the Hammerin' Hokies are looking to build off their strong 2013 season, where they hosted an NCAA Tournament pod and finished the year ranked No. 22 in the Coaches Poll. The squad is led by pre-season All-America junior catcher Mark Zagunis, along with junior first baseman Sean Keselica (obligatory Voorhees Vikings shout-out), do-everything Brendon Hayden, and red hot r-Fr Saige Jenco. With the loss of slugger Andrew Rash and star SS Chad Pinder, it will be interesting to see who steps up to fill the vacuum.
The softball team has returned to action this season with a familiar face in the dugout — former ace Angela Tincher O'Brien, who joined the Hokies staff in the off-season as an assistant. Despite losing star pitcher Jasmin Harrell to graduation, the Hokies return seven of their top nine hitters and have added a couple of high-impact freshmen, including California-native Vanessa Gonzalez. The team is poised to improve on their 38-21 record in 2013, which saw them lose a heartbreaker to Kentucky in the NCAA Lexington Regional.
The Men's and Women's Track & Field teams each recently secured 5th place finishes at the ACC Indoor Championships, including 4 individual ACC titles. After a 2013 outdoor season saw them win one individual national championship, as well as 3 first team and 4 second team All-American honors, the Hokies are looking to keep the tradition alive. The Hokie women are led by All-American and three-time ACC Champion pole vaulter Martina Schultze and middle-distance runner and 800M indoor conference champ Amanda Smith. The men's team, which has been dominant the past two calendar years, looks to continue their winning ways behind pole vaulters Torben Laidig and Chris Uhle, as well as 2013 Outdoor National Champion thrower Tomas Kruzliak. The outdoor seasons kicks off at the Hurricane Invitational March 21-22.
Coming off a 5th Place finish at the Puerto Rico Classic, the men's golf team looks to keep the momentum going next week at the Mission Hills Spring Spectacular in sunny Florida. After one win and three other podium finishes during the fall season, the 15th ranked men are led by three-time winner Scott Vincent (17th, nationally) and Senior Bryce Chalkley (44th).
Over the past decade, I have seen the passion for all sports — especially the olympic sports — increase dramatically within HokieNation. The pride we all show for our fellow Hokies is constant, regardless of our personal interests in their endeavors. The fact of the matter is we want to see our colleagues succeed, especially when it involves beating our rivals. When I arrived in Blacksburg, there was a degree of ambivalence surrounding certain sports. But thanks to everyone, that attitude has evolved into one of undying devotion to anything pursued by the orange and maroon. So if you are in the 'Burg this spring, or if a Hokie team is in your neck of the woods, represent HokieNation and support your brothers and sisters in arms as they take the field/track/course.
And if olympic sports aren't really your thing, fear not: spring practice begins on March 27th.