How eager are teams at Union High School to get started with the 2019 fall sports practice schedule?

Eager enough that one, cross country, will begin practice as soon as legally allowed. Union’s cross country team will start practice just after midnight, Monday, as part of an opening-day lock-in at the school.

Another midnight practice takes place at the end of the week as the football Wildcats will have a lock-in and midnight practice Saturday, Aug. 17. That’s when football programs are allowed to start full contact.

Union isn’t adding any sports this year, but will continue to offer six fall teams. The school offers football, girls volleyball, softball, boys soccer, cross country and girls golf programs.

Union Athletic Director Dan Ridgeway said there is some work to be done prior to an athlete being able to practice.

However, there is a change in the head coaches. 

Five of the six head coaches are back this year. The lone new head coach is Justin Grahl, who replaces Erick Webster as the football coach. Webster took an assistant coaching position at Francis Howell Central.

The other head coaches are Kelli Bailey (volleyball), Tiffany Poggas (softball), Josh Wideman (boys soccer), Sarah Meiners (cross country) and Matt Goddard (girls golf).

A completed physical needs to be on file, but those now are good for two calendar years from the date the physical was done after an MSHSAA rule was approved last spring.

Additional paperwork needs to be done. For high school parents, it can be completed through registration at  

Practices for the first week are:

• Football — Practices will run from 6-11 a.m. from Monday through Thursday. The practice Friday, Aug. 16, will be from 6-8 a.m. with the annual photo day at 4 p.m. A lock-in follows at 7 p.m. with a midnight scrimmage to mark the first day of full pads.

• Volleyball — The team will hold tryouts in the Union High School Gym from 3:30-6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. After the teams have been selected, the same times will be followed for the rest of the week. There is no practice Saturday.

• Softball — The team will practice at Wildcat Ballpark from 7:30-10 a.m. Monday through Wednesday. The team shifts to 3:30-6 p.m. for Thursday and Friday with photo day also being held Friday.

The annual Alumnae Game will be held Saturday, Aug. 17, at 11 a.m.

• Boys Soccer — The team will hold night practices from 6-9 each evening from Monday through Friday. Saturday’s practice will run from 8-10 a.m.

• Cross Country — The team will have a midnight practice and lock-in for Monday, Aug. 12, to mark the start of the season.

Practices Tuesday and Wednesday will be from 6-8 a.m. The team practices from 3:15-5:15 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

For Saturday, Aug. 17, the team will practice at Big Driver in Washington from 7-9 a.m.

• Girls Golf — The team will practice Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 7:30-10 a.m. at Birch Creek Golf Club. The Wednesday, Aug. 14, practice will be held from 7:30-10 a.m. at Central Elementary.

There is no Saturday practice.

Middle School

Union offers three middle school sports programs. Football is new this season while there also will be cross country and girls basketball teams.

Ridgeway said middle school parents will have to fill out a form which can be picked up at the Union Middle School office.  

Middle school practices for football and cross country start Monday, Aug. 19.

The football team will practice from 5-7 p.m. The cross country practice runs from 6-7:45 a.m. at the high school track.

Girls basketball practices begin Thursday, Aug. 22, from 3:10-5:30 p.m.