By John Lohn, Delaware County Times
August 14, 2007
Ray Gionta has been in the coaching business for years, guiding football programs inside and outside of Delaware County. His teams have had different looks through the years, but one piece of the equation has remained the same.
There’s something special about the opening morning of football camp.
“It’s like Christmas Day,” Gionta said Monday, in between practices at Marple Newtown. “It’s a day you have circled as soon as the previous season ends. I usually have trouble sleeping the night before. It’s exciting to get out there, get after it and see where we are. I know the kids are excited about it, too.”
Monday not only marked the official start of football season, but also kicked off training camp for boys and girls soccer, boys and girls cross country, field hockey, girls tennis, girls volleyball and golf. Of course, many schools have held voluntary workouts throughout the summer in a variety of sports.
For football players, a number of summer nights were spent taking part in 7-on-7 passing games. Meanwhile, lifting and conditioning are mandatory endeavors to ensure the first day of practice is productive.
Take Marple for instance. Gionta had his 47 players in full pads for a 7:30 a.m. session that lasted a little more than two hours. Two more practices followed, a helmets-only gathering from 10:45-noon and another full-pads session from 1:45-3:45.
With scrimmages starting this weekend, there’s no time for easing into the season. Gionta tried to have all paperwork, including physical forms, completed before the first morning practice. As a result, he was able to go full bore immediately.
Gionta’s approach has obviously worked, as Marple has posted three consecutive winning seasons, including earning a Class AAA playoff berth last year. Prior to Gionta taking control, the Tigers managed only two winning seasons in 12 years.