Can I just be completely honest and let you know that Thanksgiving can’t come fast enough?
I know that seems a little odd, since Thanksgiving will be Nov. 28 and then there won’t even be a full four weeks until Christmas so you know it is going to be crunch time.
Therein, however, lies my thought – I might get a chance to breathe on Thanksgiving. But probably not until then.
The fall sports season/back to school time always seems to be incredibly busy. Actually, there is very little ‘down time’ in weekly newspapers and, considering we do three of them out of the Oakdale office, Oakdale, Riverbank and Escalon, multiply that in triplicate and you get the idea. Add in the loss of a fulltime sports reporter way back on Friday the 13th of September when his leg was broken during a freshman football game and everyone here has been doing more than the norm. It feels like we’re just trying to stay afloat and not get too far behind.
I would be remiss, though, if I didn’t offer my sincerest thanks to those Oakdale High School coaches who have been very faithful and timely in providing information about their teams as we have wound our way through the fall campaign minus Dennis D. Cruz. Thanks also to those parents and/or coaches who have sent in action photos from events we couldn’t get to over the past two months.
On the plus side, when both Oakdale and Escalon football teams had a first round bye in the playoffs on Nov. 8, I had the chance to cover my first water polo match. Oakdale’s varsity boys were hosting a game that Friday evening and, with some help from announcer and ‘Voice of the Mustangs’ Pete Simoncini, I learned what constituted a foul, why some shots were basically ‘penalty shots’ with just the shooter and the goalie, how substitutions were made, etc. As Pete said, it is kind of a combination of hockey and soccer but with the players in a pool.
It’s a sport I enjoyed covering and after that home game, Oakdale had one more at home that they won and then traveled to Roseville on Nov. 16, where they won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title. A tremendous accomplishment for a team that has put in hard work over the last few seasons to reach that milestone.
Speaking of titles, there probably has been nothing more exciting for me to cover this fall than the Escalon varsity volleyball girls. They had a successful regular season, going 9-3 in their league, but found a lot more in the tank for the postseason.
This team turned out to be the one that broke the curse, getting past the semifinal round – where they had lost the last three seasons – and then prevailed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship on Saturday, Nov. 9. It was their first trip to the Section finals since 1998, when they lost to Linden. Their 3-2 win this season over Union Mine secured the school’s first ever volleyball blue banner.
If you’ve never been to a good volleyball match, there’s one word I can use to best describe it: Hyperventilate.
That’s something I did plenty of as I watched the action unfold from behind the lens, not only on that championship Saturday, but also in the earlier round playoff games. Every dig, every block, every kill – the intensity level that the Lady Cougars and all of their postseason opponents brought to the court was enough to get your heart rate into overdrive.
Taking the photo of the team and coaches with that golden volleyball and the Section title banner was definitely a highlight of the fall season; they also won games in the first two rounds of the NorCal state competition before coming up against a tough Aptos team. But a 31-win season is definitely one to look at with pride and is one nobody in Escalon will soon forget.
Of course, there’s also plenty of news to cover, especially as we head into the holidays with food drives, Angel trees, Thanksgiving dinners … better get back to crunch time.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.