2016 Lebanon County boys soccer preview
In a brief poll about their meaning of success this fall, most Lebanon County boys soccer coaches strayed from the fan's instinctual answer.
Success will not register in line with wins and losses, they said. It will instead take many forms; steady team improvement, individual player development and program growth beyond the varsity squad, all honorable, sensible aspirations.
But what if all those are fulfilled and the victories don't come? Is 2016 still a success?
From a big-picture view, what would make this season a success for the entire county? That may be an even tougher question.
After all, three teams earned a district playoff berth last year, none advancing past the tournament's first round. Expectations now are relatively tempered, considering also Annville-Cleona, which racked up a county-best 14 wins, including the program's all-time greatest in the league playoffs, graduated a bus-load of talent.
Though the Little Dutchmen, like Elco and Palmyra, could be in the mix to make districts all again. The latter two programs are also the county's most recent to make a district semifinal. Would their reemergence to that level mean success? Or what about a surprise story out of Cedar Crest, Lebanon, Northern Lebanon or elsewhere?
Any answer likely stems from a combination of your own personal geography, wins, losses and the same areas the coaches mentioned. But don't underestimate the importance of another measure.
Back in November, the most striking part of Annville-Cleona's L-L tournament upset of unbeaten Elizabethtown, then also the reigning league champion, had nothing to do with or development.
It was, as told by Ray Kreiser, the team's long-time headman, "Sheer emotion and joy. There was nothing but joy."
So yes, whether you're topping the standings or living in their basement, the definition of a quality season is clearly likely to change. Although perhaps it doesn't have to. Simply find that joy along your chase of districts or development, and the sense of success will surely follow.