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Practice for 2014 fall sports season gets underway Monday

A sign that summer is winding down. Practice begins for many athletes participating in football, soccer, volleyball, cross country and girls swimming begins throughout Minnesota Monday, August 11.

Also, practice began this week for 33 football teams around the state who are taking advantage of "Zero Week" due to scheduling issues for non conference games. According to mshsl.org, it won't be the case for the 2015 football season when the new district scheduling format debuts.

The new season also marks the start of new conferences in the Twin Cities area. The North Suburban and Missota Conferences are defunct and one of the new conferences will be where St. Louis Park and Benilde-St. Margaret's will be members of the Metro West Conference. Other members will be the two Bloomington schools, Jefferson and Kennedy; Cooper, Richfield, Chaska and Chanhassen. St. Thomas Academy and many of the Classic Suburban schools, including Hill-Murray and North St. Paul will form the Metro East Conference.

Holy Angels will join the Tri-Metro Conference after the Missota Conference dissolved. As for the rest of the Missota teams, Shakopee and Farmington replace the two Bloomington schools in the South Suburban Conference and Northfield and Red Wing will be taking long bus rides since they will be playing in the Big Nine Conference.

As for St. Louis Park's former North Suburban Conference rivals, Totino-Grace, Irondale and Spring Lake Park are now in the Northwest Suburban Conference. Fridley and Columbia Heights are headed to the Tri-Metro Conference.

It should be interesting when these new conferences begin competition within a couple of weeks. The St. Louis Park soccer teams open their season on Thursday, August 21 at Armstrong. The boys home opener is Saturday, August 23 against the Wayzata Trojans at 1 PM. The girls home opener is Monday, August 25 against the Minneapolis south Tigers at 5 PM.

The Oriole football team will begin its second season under head coach Ben Wolfe on Friday August 29 against the Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars at 7 PM at Bloomington Stadium. Their home opener is Friday, September 12 against the Richfield Spartans at 7 PM.