A new look to the high school football preseason…
Players and coaches alike in Northeast Tennessee are counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until they can return to their respective schools and embrace a new season.
However, this season will be much different for these teams as they will be doing everything so different than what they have in past preparations.
To begin with, each athlete must sign off on a form allowing them to participate in team activities due to the COVID-19. Once they arrive at the field, there will be no locker rooms to change in as the athletes must come prepared to start their daily workouts.
Before they can enter the facility, they will have their temperatures taken, answer some questions, and then be properly logged in for the day as records must be kept by the coaching staff per guidelines approved by the athletic directors and school administrators in the region.
Each coach will be responsible for his/her group of nine and those must stay together the whole time in the event that someone becomes infected with the virus, it will be easy to determine who they have been in contact with.
Each athlete will be expected to maintain social distancing which means that the splits for the offensive and defensive line will be altered while exchanges between quarterback and center will be in shotgun formation only if a coach elects to do so.
Also, blocking drills will not take place and there will be absolutely no physical contact.
So, what does this mean in regards to a football team getting prepared?
“It comes down to the fact that as coaches we will not be coaching the game of football,” said Cyclone head coach Shawn Witten. “What we will be doing is training these kids to get their bodies in shape and prepared to play football when we get to play.”
But more importantly, just having the opportunity to prepare for the sport they love, these coaches and athletes will benefit mentally just to be able to resume activities that they have been accustomed to.
Many athletes have been doing workouts at home and occasionally with a friend when parents allowed.
But starting Monday morning June 1, 2020, they will be back together on the same field with their team albeit separated to meet social distancing guidelines and football preparations in an unusual way.
It’s a small start but at least it is a start.
Everything that can be done to protect these athletes and coaches has been put in place by the school and the athletic directors and each is expected to adhere to the recommendations set forth when it was approved for the region to open back up.
It signals to the community as well that there is an expectation of a football season to be played which many have been fretting over. Things can change between now and the start of the season.
But there is at least hope!