The squeak of the sneakers, the chatter of players, and the swish of the net were music to the ears of coaches and student athletes all over Erie County on Monday.
"We've been waiting all year," Amherst junior Beau Haubeil said. "Just doing stuff on our own. It's great to see these guys. I mean, we're a family."
The family's going to be downsized in the next week and a half, though. Like many other schools around the area, Amherst's first day back was a tryout. Games will begin about a week and a half from Monday.
"It's almost like an NBA style season," Frontier varsity boys' basketball coach Tim Foley said. "You play one day, practice the next, play one day, and practice for two. So things will get going pretty quickly here."
From the Southtowns to the Northtowns and everywhere in between, sessions on the hardwood look a little different. Coaches take the time to wipe down each ball. Using and sanitizer is as synonymous with a break as getting water. But the chance to play makes it all worth it.
"It's been boring, but now that it's back, you get to actually get out, and play with your teammates again," Frontier sophomore Mya Brown said. "It's exciting."
"They're being kids. They're doing what kids should do," Amherst varsity boys' basketball coach Chris Kensy said. "They should be playing basketball with their friends."
It's a shortened window, but high school athletes all over the region will get their chance this season. The basketball and hockey seasons run from February 1st to March 27th.