Let the (Granite State) Games begin!

Ahhh, the Games people play.

These Games, the Granite State Games, are a good thing.

Believe it or not, Bishop Guertin High School girls soccer coach Pat Mulcahy’s vision began its fifth year on Monday, giving student athletes a chance at scholarship money (about $4,000 involved) and the chance to be seen by scouts/coaches from 40 colleges and universities, mainly from the east region and New England, according to the list provided on the Games website.

“We’re excited everything is still living and breathing,” Mulcahy said. “It’s great as we keep working at it. There are some very difficult things we still deal with, mainly sponsorships and getting volunteers. Those are the major challenges.”

But they are challenges that Mulcahy & Co. continue to work to overcome. The events this week mainly take place at Southern New Hampshire University and Derryfield School, There are a few other venues such as Canterbury Woods and Pembroke Pines (golf) and Pioneer Sportsman in Dunbarton for the newest sport, archery.

Things have varied over the years. Archery is in this year, baseball is out due, Mulcahy said, some director/coaching health issues but will return next year. Lacrosse has been absent the last couple of years but tennis was added a year ago. Thus the lineup from as many as four regions (Southern, Coastal, Lakes and Monadnock) includes, besides the above sports, softball (which began Monday), girls volleyball, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, golf and field hockey. There’s plenty of local athletes competing, with some local coaches involved as well.

“That’s the key,” Mulcahy said. “Getting good directors is where it’s really important. We’ve been able to get some really good people involved.”

One of those is Nashua High School South softball coach Kevin Handy, who coaches the Southern Region, while Bishop Guertin head coach Leah Maciejewski is the softball tourney overall director. Handy sees it as a good way to promote his sport, which he feels gets a lack of All-Star type attention.

“Not sure why in our sport the girls don’t really have much to look forward to as far as all-star games or anything like that,” he said in an email, “so I think the GSG is a great way to get our four NH regions together with some of the states top talent and play a round robin format all week and the finals at a college field (SNHU will be available for the medal round) at the end of the week.

“This is a great way to match yourself against top talent we have, build connections, get on other coaches’ radar, and help build your colleg resume.”

It was interesting that archery was added, but Siobhan Droney, a certified U.S. Archery judge, talked to Mulcahy months ago about the possibility and there were enough athletes to compete for all four regions. That’s an issue with regard to boys volleyball, which doesn’t have anough schools playing it to provide enough athletes to cover all four regions. But perhaps Mulcahy & Co. can take another look in the future.

“We’re excited to add any sport,” he said. “And with archery, it’s nice that we get a chance to add something that’s, well, non-traditional.”

The goal, of course, is to have the Games as a tradition. It can be overwhelming to keep track of it all and also to keep the sponsorship dollars coming in, but the concept certainly is worth it. Just ask the kids who are competing.

Remember, this began as an idea popping in Mulcahy’s head one January night about six years ago, and here we are, every mid to late June for the last five as spring turns into summer.

Handy wants to to be involved in the Granite State Games for awhile from the softball – and even overall – perspective.

“My goal for the Games in the coming years is that we grow this thing in the state like the football all-star games (ironically CHAD practice begins later this week) and maybe start to do some type of charity work that goes along with it,” he said. “So all-in-all I think it’s great and believe it’s a great avenue for our girls to grow the game.”

And, in turn, the Games will grow. For all the info on who is playing when and where, go to their website or other social media outlets. Happy Year Five to Pat Mulcahy’s Granite State Games. Check them out all week.