By Eliot Schickler

The start of the fall, high-school sports season is special because it marks a new school year. The 17th Century British philisopher John Locke would have called it a "tabula rasa" -- a blank slate.

Players and coaches come back to school recharged after a long vacation, and past shortcomings are usually forgiven.

Both Staples and Weston have some new coaches.

Avery Watson, a 2009 Fairfield Warde graduate, brings youth exhuberance and cheerleading expertise (she still competes for Xtreme Cheer in Norwalk) to the Staples cheerleading squad. Watson is the Lady Wreckers' seventh head coach in six years, and for the sake of the program's stability, let's hope she'll be there for a while.

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Weston's two new coaches are Gustavo Reaes and James Murray, who took over as head girls soccer and girls cross country coaches, respectively.

Reaes replaces Joanna Hallac, a Lady Trojan alumnae who brought stability to the program but has moved to Washington, D.C. Murray is a track coach at Joel Barlow and will try to build a program. That entails persuading more girls to give cross country a try.

Normally, the start of the fall season is a time for optimism, but it's hard to feel it in the air.

One reason is the damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene, which stalled practices and pushed games back -- right into the Jewish high holy days.

The Staples boys soccer team, for example, was supposed to host Ridgefield Sept. 14. But because Ridgefield couldn't practice until Sept. 6, the game was put back to next Wednesday (Sept. 28) -- the eve of Rosh Hashanah. CIAC rules requires all teams to have 14 days of practice before playing a game.

Also moved was the Staples girls swimming team's meet against Ridgefield, which was originally scheduled for last Friday (Sept. 16) but moved to next Friday (Sept. 30) -- the second day of Rosh Hashanah.

But it's a new school year, so let's enjoy the games.