It isn't quite the run-up to Christmas morning, but for Berkshire County high school basketball coaches, the weekend before winter practice starts has them ready to roll out the basketballs.
"It's one of the best times [of the year]," Drury boys coach Jack Racette said with a laugh. "You have to finish all your projects before the winter starts."
Winter sports teams throughout Berkshire County and the rest of the Commonwealth begin practice on Monday. For some of the area's coaches, the impression given out is that "it's about time."
"There's a lot of anticipation, a lot of excitement," Lee boys coach Dan Korte said.
The first actual events of the winter basketball season will actually take place on Friday, Nov. 30, with a basketball jamboree in Lee. The Lee girls will host Lenox, Monument Mountain and Hopkins Academy at 4:45 p.m., while the Lee boys will host Lenox, Monument and Mount Everett starting at 7 p.m.
The first official game of the season is Thursday, Dec. 6, when Turners Falls visits Mount Greylock.
The Mounties are one of four Berkshire schools that are in the high school football playoffs. First-round playoff games will take place Tuesday night with the winners advancing to the Western Massachusetts Super Bowl games on Saturday, Dec. 1.
"We're trying to win a championship for football," St. Joseph's Tank Roberson said. "We know what we've got to do."
Roberson is the point guard on coach Paul Brindle's defending Western Massachusetts Division III championship team, which reached the state championship game. He is also a key cog in a St. Joe's football team that is trying to win its first Super Bowl title since beating East Longmeadow in 1995.
The Crusaders open their season seven days after the Super Bowl, playing at Archbishop Williams in Braintree on Saturday, Dec. 8.
"We're talking a lot about" basketball, said Roberson, who also said his main focus right now is on Tuesday's Division III playoff game. "It's getting really cold outside. A lot of us would love to be in the gym."
Hoosac boys' coach Bill Robinson would love to be in the gym with his players on Monday. Robinson said of the 22 players who signed up to play basketball for the Hurricanes, 18 of them will be on the practice field Monday with football coach Dayne Poirot.
"We won't start Monday. If we lose [Tuesday], we won't go until Friday" with a full squad, said Robinson.
While the players won't start until Monday, or Friday or the week after, Robinson said he's been preparing for a while.
"I'm going year-round, but to be quite honest with you," he said, "I jot things down and start coming up with plays. I start the process in September when the kids come back to school."
Drury girls coach John Franzoni said his team is excited to start the season, because he said they have something to prove.
"That loss [in the Western Mass. Division II quarterfinals] really stuck with the kids. They were pretty emotional about it," he said. "They've been working hard to prepare. I tell the kids to go out and play with a purpose."
Taconic coach Bill Heaphy is another coach who can't wait for Monday, even though the start of the season has some peril attached to it.
"In the summer, you try to get camps and clinics in. It's more relaxed," he said. "Now my stomach is turning."