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Students and athletes in Charles County still have a few more days of summer vacation left before class is back in session.

Nonetheless, there was a lot of teaching going on Wednesday, as high school teams had their first official practice for fall sports.

And some of those in charge of doing the teaching are new head coaches.

Ryan Gick, a 1993 McDonough High School graduate, is one of those new head coaches. He returns to his alma mater as the head man of the Rams football team, where he once was an All-SMAC and All-County selection at quarterback and defensive back under former head coach Larry Johnson.

“I’ve been waiting for this for a very long time, and when I first got here in March, I was looking forward to this day,” said Gick, who replaces former frontrunner Luke Ethington. Ethington led the Rams to a Class 2A state title in 2010. “It was very exciting; we had a team meeting to set the tone, and there’s a lot of conversation between the coaches and players. Everyone is starting to get a feel of what I’m trying to do.”

Gick, who led the Rams to a state title in 1990 as a sophomore quarterback, felt that the first practice was pretty productive.

“It was a good morning for us in practice for the first day and the players were ready to go,” Gick said. “We just had our helmets on today, not a lot of contact. There was a lot of movement and teaching the basics at every position. My coaching staff helped me out today to make sure everyone was in the right position. We had a team camp recently, and we are ahead of the game. I thought it was a very crisp practice.”

Gick mentioned that there is a lot of rich tradition at McDonough that goes back to the 1980s.

“I have a lot of my friends that I’m in contact with that are alumni here,” Gick said. “There has been a lot of great teams here, and my goal is to continue with that tradition. Every coach has their different way of doing things. I’m just want to get my point across that there are a lot of people in the community that follow them.”

McDonough senior DeMonne Cox, who will play quarterback and safety, got up at 6:45 a.m. Wednesday and ate some eggs and toast and drank a lot of water. Then he drove to school, made some adjustments to his helmet, stretched and was ready for the 10 a.m. session.

“Yes sir, I was very excited for practice. I couldn’t even go to sleep last night,” said Cox, who was a part of a Rams squad that won a share of the SMAC crown a year ago with Huntingtown and finished 9-2 overall, 7-1 SMAC. “The stakes are very high this year in my senior year. This is my team; they are going to follow my lead. I just have to do my part and be prepared. The first day was really good; we made a lot of progress.”

Wednesday evening, the North Point boys soccer team and first-year head coach Don Moss worked on some ball skills and fundamentals, but first opened up with some conditioning on the track.

Moss was the assistant last season under Gary Lesko, who recently stepped down.

“We started off with some testing on the track to see who has been putting in the work in the offseason,” Moss said. “I’m excited to get practice underway, we are very young, and I’m looking forward to the season.”

Junior midfielder Sam McCarthy, a key returning player for North Point, was happy to get back to work and will be one of the leaders on the team.

“Everyone looked good in practice today,” said McCarthy, who will be entering his third year on varsity. “It’s the first day, so we have a lot to work on. Coach Moss was on our assistant last year, so we are pretty familiar with him already. I expect nothing less of what we did last year.”

McCarthy pointed out that the team ran about six laps around the track, and then did a 40-yard dash to work on speed and acceleration.

“We play long games, so the conditioning will really help us as the season approaches,” McCarthy said.

The Westlake volleyball team got its first practice underway with new head coach Brandie Muffie, who grew up in Saltsburg, Pa.

Muffie, who moved to Southern Maryland last August, teaches special education and English at Westlake and wants to take the program in the right direction.

“The first practice went well; we had about 30 girls show up,” Muffie said. “I’m confident the next few years we will be able to build the program. The focus is on rebuilding and improving on our record from last year.”

During the Wolverines practice, Muffie worked on basic skills such as hitting, digs and passing, along with conditioning to ease the girls back into it.

“The girls are very excited and are determined to work hard this season, it showed today in our practice,” Muffie said.

ajmason@somdnews.com