Odd nicknames, radar guns, Darth Vader masks and lacrosse sticks.
These were all part of GameTimePA's first spring sports media day on Saturday afternoon. Representatives from more than 45 teams took part in questionnaires, photo shoots and games.
Here's a few things we learned:
York-Adams lacrosse is on the rise
For years, the YAIAA has lagged behind the Mid Penn and Lancaster-Lebanon League in lacrosse. But that is changing more rapidly than ever before, according to several head coaches on both the boys' and girls' side of the action.
What's different about York-area lacrosse now? The coaches unanimously agreed that a key contributor to York's rise in talent is an increased focus on the youth programs around the county. Several schools have youth programs stretching down into the single-digit age group now, as opposed to a decade ago when high schoolers were playing the game for the first time and learning from scratch.
"It makes a big difference when you have a team full of kids who have played for 10 years," York Catholic boys head coach Shane Harper said. "Years ago, there was little experience and everyone was learning for the first time."
"When I started in third grade, it was like an underground sport," York Catholic's Tanner Yanick added. "Now you have young kids playing all over and kids from our league going to play in college."
Just how close the YAIAA is to the L-L and Mid Penn is up for debate.
Kennard-Dale girls head coach Kelly Wetzel has coached in York County and at Arundel High School in Maryland, the perennial hotbed state of lacrosse. He said he believes the YAIAA has already surpassed the Mid Penn top to bottom, he said.
New Oxford boys' head coach Jason Cross said the league is "as close to catching up to the Mid Penn as it has ever been," he said.
A good gauge of how improved York County really is will be in the season opener when the Red Lion boys take on Lampeter-Strasburg from Lancaster.
"We're not at the L-L level yet, but we're getting better," Red Lion head coach Stefan Striffler said of York County. "We're catching up. No York (boys') team has ever made it to states, but we fully intend to make Red Lion the first one."
YAIAA baseball players, softball players and boys' lacrosse players took turns lighting up a radar gun at GameTimePA.com's spring media day. Jim Seip/GameTimePA.com
Clare Boone is really smart
The Kennard-Dale sophomore has already committed to the Ivy League's Yale University. Boone is a self-admitted math enthusiast, who drew praise from her head coach.
"She's absolutely brilliant," Wetzel said. "You can combine a bunch of our SAT scores and it wouldn't match hers."
Almost all of the softball and baseball players in attendance were polled on what their walk-up music would be in a Major League stadium. The most popular answers were "Jumpman" by Drake and "My House" by Flo Rida. The music choices after those two were rather eclectic, ranging from The Who and DMX to Fall Out Boy and Future.
Dallastown softball has a pregame ritual it calls the "Circle of Love." At YAIAA media day, coaches and players gave a glimpse of what it's like to enter the circle. Jim Seip/GameTimePA.com
What's in a name?
One thing that stood out is that the YAIAA teams are very creative when it comes to nicknames. Among them were Sghetti, Swoody, Diamond Thief, Slam, Bruiser, Cheese, T-Rex, Trigga and Shooter Dooter.
The reasoning behind each name ranged from food choices to inside jokes. Regardless, it's one unique list.
YAIAA spring sports athletes and coaches entered the York Daily Record building to participate in the photo booth, speed-pitch Wiffle ball and recess games Saturday. Jim Seip/GameTimePA.com