When the new school year begins, I get giddy with excitement and anxious to see athletes begin working toward their goals with their teammates. It's always fun to see how the teams will take shape with the mixture of the new seniors. returners as well as incoming freshmen and others who come for tryouts.

As any fan would attest, new seasons bring a new hope. It doesn't matter what happened in past seasons, every team starts out with a clean slate. Athletes should bring more enthusiasm in anticipation of the possibilities. This is the time when they can make an impression on coaches, which goes a long way to increasing their role on the team. It's always important to listen to the coaches, but that's especially true in the beginning, when coaches are teaching terms, plays, systems and specific expectations. This allows for more building down the line, as well.

The ongoing quest for athletes to get better every day may sound cliche, but it's absolutely essential. It's what drives their competitive nature. That habit starts right away. Athletes should set a high standard from the get-go and get into a quality routine. Coaches want to see improvement on the practice field first and foremost.

We sports editors can have an interesting sense of humor sometimes. I treat my job in a similar fashion as athletes treat their sports. I work through certain preseason kinks to get ready for the season. I try to bring my A game when the playoffs or regional tournaments roll around. Most importantly, I strive to get better with each day, each season, each school year. I'm looking forward to covering stuff again (especially since the summer season dies down a bit).

For me, there are several interesting storylines for each team that I will keep an eye on:

- Football: Perhaps no team is more affected by the change of schedule than the football team. The Orioles won't have to play Buhler, but they instead get Andale. They also don't have rival El Dorado on their schedule, which kind of matters around this area. Augusta still plays defending state champion Rose Hill during Districts, as well as Collegiate and Trinity Academy. That's pretty tough.

The big concern for a lot of people probably is the team getting a win after finishing winless last year. Augusta hosts Circle in the opener. The Orioles were one play away from beating the T-birds last year, so this could be a great chance for the team to start strongly.

- Volleyball: There's definitely a new vibe surrounding the volleyball team. Coach Heidi Dreiling was great, and new coach Rich Bishop is already building on a solid foundation. Depth shouldn't be a concern; the program has had quite the turnout so far. The Orioles will have some key seniors lead the way, but there's plenty of young blood that I foresee playing a key role.

- Boys soccer: Last year's team was incredibly talented, but it was very senior-heavy. With such a large loss, there will be plenty of shoes to fill. But this new group of leaders has a strong work ethic and potential to be really good.

- Cross Country: There were a lot of younger runners last year who were among the team leaders in times. They showed they could make an impact down the line. This season should be a good time to start that.

- Girls Golf: The team was a bit small a year ago, but the Orioles still managed two state qualifiers, one of whom is returning this year. This team got a lot better toward the end, so it'll be interesting to see if it carries that progress into this season.

- Girls Tennis: The Orioles lost quite a bit of experience, but there'll be plenty of opportunity for returners to emerge. It'll be interesting to see what some of the Orioles end up playing, singles or doubles.