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As I began the week leading up to Thanksgiving, it seemed to me like winter was already making its presence known.

There was the chill in the air on Monday morning as my alarm clock alerted me that it was time to begin the abbreviated holiday week. So, it felt like winter.

There was the exhaust billowing out of my car as I attempted to turn the heat up to its maximum capacity while I could still feel my fingertips. So, my car looked like it was winter.

I smelled smoke from a nearby chimney and, until my jealousy of whoever was was sitting in front of the fire, sipping coffee, subsided, it certainly smelled like winter.

You really do not have to have watched a single episode of “Game of Thrones” to know that winter is in fact coming. But ask any of the athletes in Black Mountain or Swannanoa, and they will tell you that winter has already arrived.

That means that between Asheville Christian Academy, Owen High School, Warren Wilson College and Montreat College, there are around a dozen varsity teams in the early weeks of the winter sports season.

The Owen Warhorses and Warlassies are already in action on the basketball court, where they each earned their first home victory of the season against Chase High School on Nov. 20.

Just west of Owen, the ACA Lions are anticipating strong performances from their two basketball squads. As the young season progresses, Jordan Shepherd will likely become even more of a household name for high school basketball fans.

The women’s basketball team at Montreat is off to a 2-4 start and welcomes Union College Nov. 24 for its second home game of the season. The men are also starting slowing this year, with a 1-4 record through their first five contests.

Both basketball teams at Warren Wilson College have had solid starts to their respective seasons.

So far this season, the men’s team has eclipsed the 100-point mark twice on their way to a 5-4 record. Before dropping two straight, they managed to put up 99 on the road in a win against Christendom. The Owls women’s team has been almost unbeatable in the Devries Gym, where they are 4-1 so far. It will try to improve its 6-4 overall record on the home court when the team hosts games on Dec. 1 and Dec. 4.

The swimming season began for the Owls in mid-November, when the men and women’s teams suffered losses. Both teams will head to Savannah, Georgia as the Savannah College of Art and Design hosts a tournament on Dec. 4-5.

The Warhorses and Warlassies will also be in the pool this season and welcome a pair of new coaches into the mix. The Owen swim season gets underway on Dec. 3 at the Skyland Pool, where A.C. Reynolds will host the meet. The Warhorses will wrestle this season under new head coach Kyle Higgins, who is replacing longtime Owen coach Jeff Foster.

So with several weeks remaining until winter is officially here, find the time to brave the cold of late fall and make your way to support one of the many sports teams in the Swannanoa Valley. And try to stay warm.

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