Like the sun, local athletes always find a way to shine.

A high temperature of near 80 degrees on Monday certainly helped matters and has this sports reporter quickly pulling out his shorts and sunscreen.

But, then Mother Nature said "Not so fast, my friend."

Temperatures are slated to drop into the mid 40's to low 50's at the end of the week.

And, on Wednesday morning, we had snow. Clearing off my car as I am getting ready to go to the office in the middle of April is not at all my idea of a good time.

But, the snow will not stick around ... at least we can hope, right?

In all actuality, we can't beat Mother Nature, but that doesn't matter -- sports are back, and for that, I am grateful.

The sweet ping of a ball hitting the bat, the whoosh of a ball striking the inside of a lacrosse goal and the sound of the starting guns -- all music to my ears.

It has been a long winter, but we have survived.

Teams are finally getting outside of their gyms -- for Ayer Shirley, that came sooner than most schools due to the start of the gym's demolition last week.

The beginning of the season is always a stressful and exciting time for coaches and players alike -- not knowing what the season over the course of five-to-six weeks will bring.

Some baseball teams like Groton-Dunstable, whose field was one of the last ones to see the snow melt away, practiced fielding fly balls for its first game of the season in its opener at Algonquin.

Such is the life of baseball teams in New England.

Even college teams early in the season have to play a majority of their early games down south. UMass Lowell started its spring training on campus despite mounds of snow that were plowed up on the sides of the artificial turf surfaces.

Southern sports teams are typically more successful than New England teams, but that's only because the weather is more cooperative for outdoor activities.

However, New England teams have a grit about them that is unmatched.

A little cold never hurt anybody -- having to deal with snow and rain at the start of the baseball season is common for local teams. On average, the first two games of the regular season are often postponed due to inclement weather, which makes for grueling three-to-four game weeks at season's end.

An 18-game schedule starts to feel like a 50-game grind.

The weather is finally starting to cooperate and it's a beautiful thing. But with the sunny skies come the may flies, and yes, the ticks.

Be very careful out there, folks. If you're coming out to the games, pack the bug repellent.

Many of the fields in the area are surrounded by woodlands -- known breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other insects.

I have a good feeling about the outlook for the local spring teams this season after what transpired this winter with the successful runs of North Middlesex basketball, hockey, Lunenburg/Ayer Shirley hockey and the Ayer Shirley basketball teams. The North Middlesex baseball team is riding a three-game win streak after beating Wachusett and Fitchburg.

A lot of those players tasted success in the winter and came up short, but they now have a chance to take their spring teams to the next level. It's nice to see the Bromfield girls' lacrosse team off to an unbeaten 4-0 start for new head coach Dave Planchet, who took over following the resignation of last year's coach, Hilary Kuss.

Good things are also starting to happen with the Bromfield baseball team, which, with the support of the community, has breathed new life into its diamond over on Pond Road behind the Library.

Recent additions include a fence and equipment shed. The Trojans even won its first game over Clinton on the road.

There are plenty of bright moments to come this spring ... at least that's my prediction. Get out there and enjoy the weather ... I know I am going to.