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I was warned when I came to Harvard that Cambridge only had two seasons.
There was a long, bitter winter filled with snow and ice. Then, at some arbitrary point, winter became summer--passing over the idea of spring altogether.
Likewise, I was told, several months later summer gave way to winter again, without a sign of fall.
The idea of two seasons was no problem at all to me. In fact, I was used to having only two seasons.
You see, back home we have football season and spring football season--nothing more, nothing less.
The calendar revolves around these two seasons nicely.
The football season runs from August to January, followed by a month or two grace period before spring football in April and May.
Harvard, too, has begun to try out this new system of the equinox. The Crimson football team dons the pads early Monday morning for the opening of its spring football season.
Spring football for Harvard will last two weeks and culminate with a scrimmage.
While not crucial, the spring practices are an important opportunity to prepare for next season.
The Crimson has several holes to fill on its offensive and defensive lines and these practices should provide an early judgement of the new talent there.
Spring football is also important for building the team atmosphere. Harvard needs to develop momentum and spirit in the next two weeks and carry that over into August when the team meets for the first days of preseason practice.
This spring practice marks the second season since the Ivy League voted to allow a spring training period for football in 1993.
The Ancient Eight has received dividends for its decision. Last year the league ran roughshod over its nonconference opponents, finishing with a 19-3-1 record outside the Ivies.
The performance marked the most wins ever against non-Ivy foes and was the best winning percentage for the league since a 15-1 campaign in 1970.
League play was as tough and exciting as ever, too. Aside from Penn, the league was extremely well matched. Heading into the last two weeks of the season the seven other Ivy schools had a shot to finish in second place.
Perennial power Dartmouth surprisingly found itself in an unfamiliar position in the league's basement, while usual cellar-dweller Columbia actually won three Ivy games to finish in a tie for third.
The evenly matched teams provided some outstanding games. Perhaps the tone for the season was set with the league's opening game between Harvard and Columbia.
Harvard squandered a big lead and found itself trailing 32-31 with slightly more than a minute remaining. The Crimson responded with a long touchdown drive though and overcame the Lions, 39-32.
If this year's spring practices have the impact last year's did, we should be in for one heck of a football season.
The Ivy race will probably be Penn's to lose again, but seven other schools will be gunning to end Penn's 20 game win streak.
And who's to say it won't happen?
Cornell brings back a strong nucleus from last year's Ivy runner-up squad. Dartmouth is sure to bounce back and Columbia is still improving.
And then there is Harvard. The Crimson is solid at its skill positions--returning Ivy League Rookie of the Year Eion Hu at tail back and Vin Ferrara at quarterback. The second year under Tim Murphy may be the one when Harvard turns the corner to more favorable football fortunes.
One thing is for sure. It all begins now, in the spring.
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