Incredible swims were turned in over the weekend at the State Swimming and Diving Championships. Samantha Gafford broke the 100 backstroke record that went back to 1997 by almost a second. Will Neuser placed 15th in the 100 Breaststroke. The Men's and Women's relay teams both swam extremely well. The men were 14th in the 200 Free Relay and 14th in the 200 Medley Relay. Over 127 teams and 850 athletes participated in the meet.
Wow - what a meet. From the 1st events swum to the very last one, the Irish gave 200% and had incredible swims. Here is your rundown and as you read this - remember that there were 850 swimmers and 127 teams in the meet!
Women's 200 Medley Relay: D Fredericks, Callahan, Gafford, Shinar
Women's 200 Freestyle: Samantha Gafford LTB swim
Women's 50 Freestyle: Audrey Shinar - season LTB
Women's 200 Freestyle Relay: D Fredericks, A Fredericks, Lacey, Shinar LTB for the season
Women's 100 Backstroke: Samantha Gafford 1:01.33 in Prelims in 16th and THEN she moved up 2 places in finals with a FRHS Record Swim of 1:00.51. This swim also qualified Samantha for USA swimming sectionals. The old record was set by Molly Flanigan in 1997! Way to GO Samantha
Women's 100 Breaststroke: Deming Callahan - Right On!
Womne's 400 Freestyle Relay: Gafford, D. Fredericks, A. Fredericks, Shinar LTB for the season
Men's 200 Medley Relay: Powell, Neuser, Donnelly, M Wehby 15th and LTB on the season
Men's 50 Freestyle: Cole Goodrum - Right On!
Men's 100 Freestyle: Matthew Wehby LTB for the season
Eamonn Donnelly LTB for the season
Men's 100 Fly: Will Neuser LTB for the season and great USA swimming cut
Men's 100 Backstroke: Will Powell LTB for the season
Men's 100 Breaststroke: Will Neuser LTB for the season. Went into finals in 16th place, dropped more time in finals and moved up to 15th. This swim Qualified will for US Swimming Sectionals.
Men's 200 Freestyle Relay: M. Wehby, Donnelly, Powell, Neuser LTB on the season in both prelims and finals.
Men's 400 Freestyle Relay: M Wehby, Powell, S Wehby, Donnelly Great relay splits for all!
Diver Christian Simpson went into finals in 13th place but was unable to get back to the meet to compete. Thanks Christian for your great dives this season.
Congratulations to the Irish Swim/Dive team for their 9th place finish among 67 teams that participated in last weekend's regional championships.
The Irish participated in the Region Swimming and Diving Championships on January 30 and 31, 2014. The meet got off to a great start with Diver, Christian Simpson, finishing in 3rd place and scoring 16 points for the men's team. During swims on Saturday, the Irish had 95% best swims and we got 5 new State Cuts!
MVP of the Meet for the men went to " I'm gonna get that cut" Eamonn Donnelly. MVP for the ladies went to Elizabeth Lacey for that "finally got it" state cut in 100 Butterfly. What's up went to Matthew Wehby for his two additional state cuts swims
Highlights of the Meet - Placements in the Top 16
Women's 200 Medley Relay - 9th
Samantha Gafford, Deming Callahan, Elizabeth Lacey and Anna Fredricks
Men's 200 Medley Relay - 6th
Will Powell, Will Neuser, Eamonn Donnelly, Matthew Wehby
Women's 200 Freestyle - Samantha Gafford - 12th
Men's 50 Freestyle - Cole Goodrum - 10th
Men's 100 Butterfly - Will Neuser - 5th
Men's 100 Freestyle - Matthew Wehby - 15th
Women's 200 Freestyle Relay - 15th
Dodi Fredericks, Anna Fredericks, Elizabeth Lacey, Audrey Shinar
Men's 200 Freestyle Relay - 10th
Eamonn Donnelly, Sam Wehby, Cody Oliphant, Cole Goodrum
Women's 100 Backstroke - Samantha Gafford - 7th
Men's 100 Breastroke - Will Neuser - 5th
Women's 400 Freestyle Relay - 11th
Anna Fredericks, Dodi Fredericks, Audrey Shinar, Samantha Gafford
Men's 400 Freestyle Relay - 7th
Will Neuser, Will Powell, Cole Goodrum, Matthew Wehby
Will Powell - 15th in 100 Backstroke
The Irish will be represented at the State Championship February 14 and 15 at the Centennial Sportsplex by the following:
Samantha Gafford, Deming Callahan, Elizabeth Lacey, Audrey Shinar
Will Neuser, Will Powell, Matthew Wehby, Eamonn Donnelly, Cole Goodrum, Christian Simpson
Dodi Fredericks, Anna Fredericks. Sam Wehby, Thomas Dahlhauser, Cody Oliphant
Prelims begin on Friday, February 14 at 9:30 and final will begin at 6 pm
Prelims begin on Saturday, February 15 at 9:30 / Men's diving prelims at 2 pm and Finals for both swimming and diving begin at 6 pm
At the Ensworth Invitational this past Saturday, the Irish welcomed 2 more members to the Region Team and most of the Irish had at least 1 Life Time Best swim. The Irish Combined Team defeated Cleveland HS (203 to 185), Beech HS (239 to 155) and BGA (251 to 46). The Men defeated BGA (134 to 7), Beech (111 to 84) and Ensworth (109 to 88) and the Ladies defeated BGA (117 to 39), Beech (128 to 71) and Cleveland (109 to 79).
MVP honors go to Matthew Wehby and Will Neuser for getting another state cut and to Dodi Fredericks for her "I'm only just a touch away from State" swims. "What's up" goes to Anna Fredericks for being a fantastic relay anchor and great splits. So many of the Irish are "so close" to those magic State Cuts. We know the Region Championships will have some exciting races and more cuts.
Coach Rob, Coach Jordan and "Ma" could not be more proud of our young Irish. What a group!! and they continue to train hard and improve at each meet. There is no "quit" in any of them. They know how to "Roll Pride"
The Irish participated in the Excel Swimming Invitational on Saturday. The Combined Team finished 6th out of 23 teams. The Men's team finished 6th and the Lady Irish finished 7th. MVP Honors go to Deming Callahan for her State Qualifying Breaststroke Swim and to Eamonn Donnelly for a 110% effort and being a gentleman that the Irish are very proud of. The What's Up honor goes to Cody Oliphant for (and I quote) "getting my first ribbon EVER" and that Fantastic Smile!!
We are so very proud of the Irish after the 2 long weeks of very difficult "hell week" practices. Lifetime best swims were posted at the meet by Dodi Fredericks (200 Fr), Anna Fredericks (50 Fr), Sam Wehby (50 Fr), Clayton Chamness (50 Fr), Elizabeth Lacey (100 Fly), Annabeth Healy (100 Fr), Rachel Spelman (100 Fr), Cole Goodrum (100 Fr), Jerry Tarwater (100 Bk), Caroline Fredericks (100 BR) and Conner Guidrey (100 Br)
We look forward to the Ensworth Invitational on Saturday, January 18.
On December 23 the Irish Swim Team welcomed Alumni for the Annual Water Polo Match. The Varsity Irish beat the Alumni Team for the first time in a very long time. It was great to welcome so many Alumni back and thanks for coming on this special day
The Irish Swim Team swam extremely well yesterday in the Boro. The Ladies team ended up in a tie, the men's team lost by 4 and the combined team score was Riverdale 172 FRHS 168.
MVP Honors go to Elizabeth Lacey and Will Powell for winning both of their individual events. What's up goes to Sam Wehby for 3 lifetime best swims. Audrey Shinar became our newest state qualifier with her 50 freestyle swim
The Irish swam a double dual against USN and JPII on the 4th. Scores:
Women: JPII 125 FRHS 45
FRHS 105 USN 61
Men: Usn 96 FRHS 80
FRHS 128 JPII 40
FRHS 185 USN 157
FRHS 173 JPII 165
MVP for the Ladies goes to Captains Ana Tantaris and Audrey Shinar not just for their swims but for their leadership of the team this season and the way they have encouraged and helped the Freshmen
MVP for the Men goes to Matthew Wehby for his come from behind swim in the 200 IM and getting a State Cut!
What's Up goes to Will Powell for his great individual swims and also to Gracie Wirth for her fantastic 50 freestyle kick!
The Final Dual Meet of the season will be against Riverdale on December 12.
Former State Champion in the 500 Freestyle and Father Ryan record Holder, Sara Menke '12, now at US Air Force Academy, is selected to swim in Winter Nationals this weekend with Air Force Academy Women's Swimming and Diving! She also just got her Mountain West Conference Academic medal for being on the Academic team--very impressive!
Congratulations to the Irish who had great swims and dives and made finals on Saturday night at McCallie. Christian Simpson 8th in diving; Samantha Gafford 7th in 100 Back; Will Neuser 8th in 100 fly and 12th in Breaststroke. All the relay teams made finals. Of the 30 teams participating, the Lady Irish finished 14th and the Men finished 12th. There were teams at the meet from Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky. Swimmers of the meet were Samantha Gafford and Will Neuser. What's up goes to Matthew Wehby for competing in 3 A relays.
The young Irish were amazing! The Freshmen have really stepped up and now find themselves on A Relays! The team truly enjoyed the weekend, the bus trip and the meet. Fantastic experience for a prelims and finals meet.
Christian Simpson 8th in Diving
Samantha Gafford 7th in 100 Back
Will Neuser 8th in 100 Fly and 12th in 100 Breast
Lady Irish Relay Placement:
Medley Relay ( Gafford, Callahan, Lacey, Nordhoff) 11th
200 Free Relay ( Lacey, D. Fredericks, A Fredericks, Shinar) 12th
400 Free Relay (Gafford, A Fredericks, D Fredericks, Shinar) 13th
Men Irish Relay Placement:
Medley Relay (Powell, M Wehby, Neuser, Dahlhauser) 12th
200 Free Relay (Dahlhauser, M Wehby, Donnelly, Goodrum) 10th
400 Free Relay (Powell, M Wehby, Goodrum, Neuser) 11th
Almost everyone on the team now has Region Cuts and it is only November !! Now for the compliment - the team was eating breakfast very early that Saturday morning at the hotel. A gentleman came up to Coach "Ma" as they were leaving to let her know that he was very impressed with the behavior and manners of the team.
And...the bus driver came and sat next to a parent during finals. She said "I wanted to come watch my bus kids swim. I have had many kids on my bus and these are the best mannered and polite kids I have had"
So proud of our Irish swimmers! GO IRISH and keep that PRIDE!
The Irish swam with a lot of PRIDE on Tuesday. Swimmers of the meet were Elizabeth Lacey and Thomas Dahlhasuer. What's up honors go to our freshman diver, Christian Simpson. Several of the Irish won two Individual events: Thomas Dahlhauser, Will Neuser, Will Powell. Many more of the Irish achieved Region Cuts. All the coaches are so very proud of this young and hard working team
The Irish Ladies finished 3rd and the Irish Men finished 2nd at the Irish Relay Invitational held yesterday. The "shout out of the meet" goes to the new freshmen swimmers. We also honored our seniors yesterday with their towel presentation - Rachel Nordhoff and Captains Ana Tantaris and Audrey Shinar.
Our next meet is November 14 at the TSU pool against Brentwood Academy
The Irish Swim and Dive team will host the Irish Relay Invitational on Thursday, November 7 at 4:30 at the TSU Gentry Center Pool. The meet will host 16 high school and middle school teams from all over Middle Tennessee. This is a great kick off to the season and the Irish really look forward to this meet each season.
The Irish Swim Team participated in the Ensworth Invitationa. The Combined team finished 2nd, the Men's team 2nd and the Women's team 4th. 18 Irish qualified for Regions with super swims and Samantha Gafford, Will Neuser and Will Powell also achieved state cuts. The next meet will be the Irish Invitational Relay Meet on November 7.
State Qualifiers as of 10/26/2013: Samantha Gafford, Will Neuser and Will Powell
Regions Qualifiers as of 10/27/2013: Deming Callahan, Thomas Dahlhauser, Allison Forsythe, Anna Fredericks, Dodi Fredericks, Reilly Gabel, Cole Goodrum, Conner Guidry, Rachel Nordhoff, Cody Oliphant, Audrey Shinar, Ana Tantaris, Matthew Wehby and Sam Wehby
WOW - what a City meet for Irish and Middle School Swimmers
Congratulations to Sam Wehby who placed 1st in the 13-14 Novice Men's Division; To rising freshman Elizabeth Lacey for placing 1st in the 13-14 Novice Women's Division and to Gabbie Juoza Clark for being runner-up in the 11-12 Novice Women's Division.
All the Irish who trained so hard all summer placed well at the meet and truly understand the importance of all those morning practices :) - and this applies to our swimmers who participated in the Wm Co Championships several weeks ago too!
For those who were on the Irish Swim Team last season, practice begins on August 19 from 3:45 (right after school) until 6 pm at the GJCC Outdoor Pool. This practice is also open to rising 8th grade MS swimmers.
For those new HS and MS swimmers and those MS swimmers in grades 5, 6 or 7 - practice will begin on Tuesday, September 3 at the TSU Gentry Center Pool.
HS practice is from 3:45 until 6 and MS practice is from 4 until 5:30. HS swimmers WILL have weight training and conditioning on campus during September and October. That schedule will be given out in a week or so.
If any of you know anyone interested in being on the HS or MS team - please have them get in touch with one of the coaches for additional information. there will be a new member sign up meeting for HS and MS the last week of August on campus
View pictures of the 2012-13 Season here.
In order: Conor O'Bryan, Carmyn Cook, Sydney Stein, Shea Holmes, Conlon Griesmer
Congratulations to our newest NISCA (National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association) Academic All Americans. Over 300,000 students are involved in aquatics at the high school level in over 14,946 programs for boys' and girls'. Approximately 2% of these students are recognized as high school All Americans. To achieve this honor, the student must maintain a GPA of 3.75 or better for 7 semesters.
The Irish Swim and Dive team is looking forward to a great 2012-2013 season. We will miss 2012 graduate and All American Sara Menke who is now swimming with the Falcons of the US Air Force Academy. Another 2012 graduate, Zach Kent is now swimming at Queens College of Charlotte. We are always proud of our team overall GPA and last season we had two Academic All Americans - Sara Menke and Jack Quigley.
This year the Irish are led by senior captains, Conor O'Bryan, Shea Holmes, Sydney Stein and Conlon Griesmer. We welcome 12 new members to the team this season. Our first meet will be the Fighting Irish Relay Invitational which will be held at the TSU Gentry Center Pool on Thursday, November 8. Please check our swim schedule and come out to support Irish Swimming and Diving.
We also have a very active Catholic Middle School program. For information about that program, please contact Coach Jaimie at email@example.com
Diving Forms (click here to open)
2012-13 Season (see pictures here)
I need to say that Captains Shea, Sydney and Conlon, joined the team for the trip and had a picture of Coach Rob "present" at each and every race. The team members saw to it that Rob had "face time" and conversation time all during the meet. Although he was in Nashville, the "Nation" kept him with us.
The Irish Nation was AWESOME! Of course, I would have loved to have all the Irish with us, but the guidelines for dual meet season, region meet and state meet are all by qualifying times. Coach Rob and are so very blessed to have had your athletes to work with.
Meet recap: Other than what I said for Father Ryan -
Thank you to Carmyn Cook for all the very hard work she put in for Diving this season and she made us proud at State by making it into the 2nd round of diving.
To Annabeth and Rachel for continuing to work an additional 2 weeks to help us with the women's 200 medley relay and swimming best splits. Can't WAIT to get them back in the water. To quote Annabeth " I will GET that state cut next year" :) LOVE IT
To Deming Callahan for her great split on the 200 medley relay and waiting forever to swim that breaststroke.
To Reilly Gabel for her wonderful swims in the 200 IM and the 100 fly and "best" relay splits. To Charlotte and Adam for the FANTASTIC Team dinner you provided on Thursday. We ate ourselves out of the Envoy Room!!
To Samantha Gafford for "almost" getting that FRHS record in the 100 Back. Watch out Irish Nation - she is only .56 off the record! - and for her "best" splits EVER in the relays. Loved the smiles Sam
To Claire Johnson for working so very hard to do her very best as always for the Nation! and the great splits on the 200 and 400 fr relays
To Audrey Shinar for that 26.40 in the 50 and leading the ladies on the 200 and anchoring the 400.
To Thomas Dahlhauser for "agreeing" to help us out by swimming breaststroke on the medley relay. Thank you Tommy AND for the face time you did with Coach Rob - it was very special for him.
To Eamonn Donnelly for your anchor split on the med relay and did you love the "ready room" at finals" ?? We DID! Fun to be a record holder isn't it is!!
To Will Powell for "are you kidding me" swims in the 100 Fly and 100 Back. I was jumping for joy writing down the splits cause I KNEW good things were coming with the final times. You GO Will. Yes, you can skateboard now :)
To Will Neuser for LTB's in the 200 IM and 100 Fly. You have much to accomplish Will and we are here to take you "there" By the way - GREAT split on the 400!! A medal awaits you!
To Logan Johnstone for the great swim in the 50 fr to place 5th and score for the Irish and for being the team player you ARE. Not many young men recovering from knee surgery would give up individual placement in the finals of an event (the 100 Fr) to help your team break a record but you DID. I will never forget that moment.
To Cooper Hodge who I call my "Christmas present"! We are all so glad that you chose to become part of the Irish Nation. Cooper placed 4th in the 200 IM and is an All American in that event. He swam on Saturday to place 4th in the breaststroke and become a consideration all american. He was the lead off swimmer in the record breaking relay. What else can I say but - thank you
Finally - there is Captain Conor! You had that "I don't like it swim in the 50" but you rose above it and became the captain and swimmer you are. You searched deep inside yourself and said - WE - the IRISH NATION can do this for Coach Rob - Saturday was a new day. As the leader you are - the swims began and the rest is history. Your splits in that "pink arena suit" tell it all! As the senior - you have worked regular season, spring and summer all this time with that super positive attitude that defines YOU. I wish I could capture forever your demeanor when you got out of the water but I won't forget it!! Your dream had come true - you got to be in the ready room, march out to music AND break a record. That is what the swimming world is all about and I know that Cooper, Logan and Eamonn were glad to help that happen for you.
Now the funny part - One of the swimmers who was part of the FORMER Irish record for the 200 now goes to UT and was there to watch it be broken. I sent a text and picture to the others who are NOW questioning the time - as I said to those guys - records are made to be broken and could not have been done by 4 more wonderful young men.
Finally to all of you - As we were having breakfast at the hotel on Saturday morning at 6:30 am - the attendant said to me - " you must be very proud of your young people cause they are very polite, open doors, and say please and thank you" Ya'll know what I said. YES - I am!! The IRISH NATION ROCKS!
What a GREAT SEASON -
Love to all - Coach "Ma"
The following have been selected as NISCA Academic All Americans. To achieve this honor, these athletes must have a cumulative GPA after 7 semesters of over 3.75. There are only 2% of all the swimmers and divers in the United States who achieve this honor.
The Irish traveled to Knoxville this past weekend for the State Championships where 118 teams and over 900 athletes participated.
What up goes to the entire state team cause they had lifetime best swims and dives!
Honorable Mention goes to Cooper Hodge for his 4th place finish in the 200 IM and becoming a swimming all american. He also placed 4th place in 100 breast and is consideration all american. Honorable mention also to Logan Johnstone for the 5th place finish in the 50 freestyle and to the men's 400 Freestyle Relay (Hodge, O'Bryan, Neuser, Johnstone) for finishing 12th.
MVP goes to the Men's 200 Freestyle relay team (Hodge, O'Bryan, Donnelly, Johnstone) for BREAKING the Irish record!. They bettered the old record by .18!!
The Combined team finished 11th and the men's team finished 13th. The Irish Nation wants to say a special thank you to the parents, alumni and Mr. Lawson for attending the meet.
Irish Swimmers/Divers who have qualified for the State Championships to be held in Knoxville February 8 and 9, 2013
Results from Dual Meet Season:
Irish Combined Team - Runner Up for Division III
Irish Women's Team - Runner Up for Division III
Thanks to all the Irish swimmers for the hard work, long hours and great swims at Regions. You made me and Coach Rob very proud of you!
Additional congratulations to Cooper Hodge for breaking 2 Irish records at the Region Championships. He broke the 200 IM record set in 2011 by almost 5 seconds! Way to go Cooper and thanks for choosing to become part of the Irish Nation!
Go Irish and Roll Pride Roll!!
The Irish competed in the Excel Invitational.
"What's Up" to Thomas Dahlhauser who rejoined the Irish Nation after rehab.
"Honorable Mention" to Claire Johnson for getting her second state cut in the 100 Free, Will Powell for getting a 2nd state cut in the 100 Backstroke and Logan Johnstone for winning the 50 Freestyle.
MVP to Cooper Hodge for winning the 200 IM and placing second in the 100 back for the first time as a Freshman at FRHS and the Men's 200 Freestyle Relay team (Johnstone, Hodge, Neuser & O'Bryan) for finishing 1st.
Of the 23 teams competing, the Men's team finished 2nd, Women's team finished 6th and Combined team was 5th. Great meet for the Irish
Arch rival Franklin HS swam against the Irish January 9th at the TSU pool. The What's Up award goes to Cooper Hodge, newest member of the team and a great asset. Honorable Mention goes to Will Powell, Will Neuser, Conor O'Bryan and Audrey Shinar for achieving State Qualifying times. The MVP of the meet was senior captain, Shea Holmes who even after a setback from surgery attained her Region cuts. Way to go Irish Nation!
Scores: Women: FRHS 112 Franklin 56
Men: FRHS 93 Franklin 77
Combined Team: FRHS 205 Franklin 133
The Irish will participate in the Excel Invitational for diving on Friday and swimming on Saturday this coming weekend.
The meet against USN and JPII defined a true team effort. "What's Up" goes to the Lady Irish who defeated both USN and JPII with outstanding swims and more Region Cuts. "Honorable Mention" goes our newest State Qualifiers - Will Neuser in the 100 Butterfly and Will Powell in the 200 Individual Medley. "Co-MVP's" of the meet were senior swimmers Logan Johnstone and Conor O'Bryan who were the lead off and anchor swimmers on the victorious Men's 200 and 400 Freestyle Relays.
Women FRHS 119 USN 57
FRHS 110 JPII 67
Men USN 107 FRHS 69
FRHS 113 JPII 58
Combined Team FRHS 188 USN 164
FRHS 223 JPII 125
Extra Thanks to our divers: Cody Hawblitzel, Joy Eatherly and Carmyn Cook for those needed extra points!
The next meet for the Irish will be against Franklin HS at the TSU pool on January
At the Maryland Farms Y, the Irish Swim team took on the Aqua Bruins of Brentwood Academy.
Scores: Men's team: FRHS 100 BA 69
Women's Team BA 92 FRHS 77
Combined Team FRHS 177 BA 161
Shout outs go to 3 freshman lady Irish who through lots of hard work, earned spots on the A Women's 200 Freestyle Relay team: Rachel Spelman, Gracie Wirth and Annabeth Healy
Honorable Mentions go to Deming Callahan for her great 200 IM swim and Daniel Cosgrove for an awesome finish in the men's 400 meter freestyle
MVP of the meet was Will Powell who led the Irish with a win in 200 freestyle and 100 Back. He also swam back on the men's 200 medley relay and was the anchor on the victorious men's 400 freestyle relay. The Irish will travel to Murfreesboro December 6 to swim the Warriors of Riverdale
2011-12 Season Recap
The young 2011-2012 team was and still is full of passion and has a strong desire to win. They were a very determined bunch who made strong efforts and improved greatly throughout the season. There was never a point where this team would let themselves become discouraged or lose faith in their abilities to touch the wall first. Upon entering all division meets it was there goal to win as a team and show great sportsmanship to all competition. Under no circumstances would they allow negative energy among themselves or other swimmers. This team truly displayed what teamwork is and how a positive attitude truly defines winning!
The Irish Swimmers represented Father Ryan well at the McCallie Invitational. In this difficult Prelims and Finals meet with 33 participating teams, the women's team finished in 12th place. They were lead by senior Sara Menke who finished 2nd in the 200 Freestyle and 3rd in the 500 Freestyle. The men's team finished in 11th place led by senior Zach Kent who finished 9th in the 200 IM and 2nd in the 100 Backstroke. The Combined Team finished in 10th place. Ninety-five percent of the team achieved Region Cuts at the meet and as the swimmers work to achieve those state cuts, junior Conor O'Bryan is only .05 off in 50 Freestyle! This is outstanding for this early in the season.
Swimming & Diving Team
Congratulations to the Father Ryan Swimming & Diving team for their strong performance in the Relay Invitational on November 3rd. The Irish hosted 17 teams from across the state in their first meet of the season. The ladies' team came in 3rd and the men's team placed 4th for a combined team finish of 2nd overall and 1st place in their division. Congratulations for a strong start to the season!