The 2012-13 school year ends tomorrow and the summer of 2013 is officially upon us. Students return to class Aug. 19 for the start of the 2013-14 school year.
That gives students just more than 10 weeks to soak up some sun, hit the beach, earn a few dollars and, for athletes, prepare for next year.
It seems as if sports have become a year-round thing even for high school students these days. Maybe saying year-round is a stretch, but it's not far off the mark at the big schools and even some of the small schools.
Most local baseball teams have a summer program that will go through June. Basketball teams will head to camps and play in local summer leagues, as will volleyball teams.
Baker School football starts its off-season program next week. The Crestview High School football team hits the field for the first time in the summer on June 17. The teams will pretty much go until the end of the summer, with a week or 10 days off for the Fourth of July.
Football teams that don't work out in June and July will likely find themselves behind the pack in September and October.
The summer is always important for new coaches like Crestview High School's Tim Hatten. There's only a certain amount of the offensive and defensive packages a team can learn in three weeks of spring drills.
Hatten will take a sensible approach to the summer drills. He said the team will work out about two and a half hours each morning. He also hopes to participate in some sort of seven-on-seven games one evening each week.
That should leave plenty of time for players to enjoy the summer while getting in the necessary work to prepare for the upcoming season.
Baker coach Matt Brunson also takes a common sense approach to the summer. He works the Gators two or three hours each day three times a week.
I still sometimes wonder what happened to the good old summer time when high school athletes had a few weeks to just be kids and kick back and relax before fall practice starts in August.
That said, I know that without some sort of structured summer program, many kids wouldn't do the work that will make them better in the fall.
Although we didn't have mandatory lifting when I was in high school, I still made it a point to be at the school at least three times a week to get my work in the summer between junior and senior years. Lifting weights was about all we could do, as there were no team drills organized by the coaches.
It didn't help me much on the football field that fall, but I had a chance to bond with the few teammates who were also working out. And I did get stronger.
Now, everybody is lifting, running and practicing all summer long. Yes, young athletes in Okaloosa County will still find time to make it to the beach or hit one of the local rivers for a leisurely day of tubing or canoeing. And kids in other parts of the state and country will find the nearest body of water to cool off and relax with their friends.
Football and the other sports are still games at the high school level. But they are a little more like businesses than they were in days gone by.
I'm glad our local coaches understand that kids need a break from the game and time to simply enjoy being young on a nice summer day.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.