The bear that is the fall sports seasons began its post hibernation stretch. High School teams were allowed to begin their summer conditioning on Monday morning in preparation for the 2020 fall sports season.
Springs sports were scrapped on March 12. Coaches and student athletes haven’t been allowed to meet in an organized fashion since.
Teams were to remain socially distanced. Only one group of 20 players were allowed on campus at a time. All equipment had to be sanitized following a session. All coaches and athletes that took part in a session were required to leave campus following their workouts.
The modified attitude of it all couldn’t curtail the excitement.
“Think about it like any kind of animal that has that winter where they go hibernate,” Prince Avenue Christian School head football coach Greg Vandagriff said. “Its like coming out of hibernation and getting to see each other so people were excited.”
Things haven’t completely returned. June is typically a time when football teams would be playing in 7-on-7 tournaments. Volleyball teams would be making their rounds to scrimmages. Softball teams would be coming together for small, low impact practices and scrimmages.
The norm isn’t not happening due to the remaining concern of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Monday was but a step toward a return to a full fall sports schedule.
“It’s the first step to getting back to normalcy and there has to be a first step and this was it,” Vandagriff said. “We’re glad it’s started.”
Many of the football players that reported on Monday have spent time working out either on their own or in non-scholastic settings.
The Warriors held their first workouts in Warrior Stadium. Bars, dumbbells and kettlebells were set up outside on the field turf to give players extra space to remain socially distanced.
Oconee County High School head football coach Travis Noland came into workouts Monday pleasantly surprised how well conditioned his players were after three months of unsupervised training.
“I’m very impressed with how they’ve come back,” Noland said. “You can tell that a lot of them have been working. We’ve been pleased with that, their attitude and where they are. This week as coaches was really about seeing where we are and then we’ll go from there. We’re a little further along than I thought we’d be.”
Many players haven’t seen each other since school was relegated to online learning. PACS has 17 seniors. Those 17 seniors hope that their ability to get their teammates into the workouts will pay dividends in the fall. The veteran mentality has already given the Wolverines a head start. Players have been pushed in the time away to find ways to get their work in by their older peers.
“We all take accountability for our team,” senior wide receiver Logan Johnson said. “We’ve taken it upon ourselves to make sure that everyone was there today. We made sure that we kept it in track with people working out not with the team.”
The first official day of football practice is July 27.