Ken Jackson
The Sports Column

After being an idea, a concept and a real long name, it’s finally a real thing.

They’re heeeeeeeeeeere!

Tohopekaliga High School is open for business, and part of that business is on the gym floor, football field, golf course and swimming pool.

The Orange Belt Conference has welcomed the Tigers, its eighth member. I’m letting that number sink in … eight. I remember a time not so long ago when that number was half that, and I’m not a lifer or anything. There are plenty of folks who know a time when it was half of four. This year’s OBC championship events should be quite epic.

By the way, that place will be called THS, or the Tigers, as much as I can. School brass won’t let us use the shortened version and I’m pretty sure I bruise a knuckle every time I type Tohopeka—owww!

(Note to the School Board: Boggy Creek High would have been an easy choice. Rivalries with Cypress Creek and Lake Nona would have been “Battle of the Creeks” and “the Lake-Creek Shootout”, and now those headlines go to the Great Front Page in the Sky ….)

At least I know how to spell and pronounce it, unlike my colleagues from around the state. I talked to a guy out of Palatka last week. I told him the new name. “You mean you can spell it?” I told him to try. He wasn’t close.

But that wasn’t an issue during last week’s pre-season volleyball jamboree at St. Cloud, when the Lady Tigers took the court in their orange and navy blue to become the first THS squad to line up in competition against another team.

“They’ll never be able to take that away from us,” said sophomore captain Jeila Fullerton after the Tigers split against Gateway and Liberty in three-set matches. “This was so exciting.”

It wasn’t easy getting to that point. Coach Eric Capestany said when practice started on July 30, there were kids in the gym who had not yet registered for classes at THS, or Gateway, or Harmony, the main schools that Tohopekaliga is relieving this year. So putting together a squad didn’t even happen until school started last Monday.

The Tigers’ first regular-season volleyball match — the first chance to show off the school’s new gymnasium and logos — was Tuesday against Gateway …

… The west-side county teams — Poinciana, Celebration and Liberty — will again kick their home football games off at 7 p.m. this season. I’d be fine if the rest of the county followed suit.

Aside from getting home earlier, it would me less time hanging around after school or work waiting for the game to start and — selfish professional reason here — there’s more natural light for photographers shooting the first three quarters of the games.

Also, if the typical weather pattern around here holds true — we’ll be more than half done with the regular season by the end of September — a game delayed by lightning or monsoon could still started at or near the current 7:30 kickoff times still employed by Osceola, Gateway, St. Cloud and Harmony.