The White County Warriors' football team will hit the ground running next week when the Georgia High School Association allows high school athletes back on campus for the first time since mid-March due the to COVID-19 pandemic.
The GHSA is allowing all high school athletes to begin summer conditioning programs next week, and WCHS head football coach Tim Cokely is looking forward to seeing the players and getting started on the preparation for the 2020 season.
“For me, I think the students are the life of a high school, and we're excited to get them back,” Cokely said. “Things are going to pick up just having them back our here, and it's going to make a lot of people happy to be able to do some things. We're just excited to finally get to be together and talk about the 2020 season. I'm looking forward to just seeing them and talking to them.”
With a large list of restrictions in place for safety and health concerns, the players will aren't able to meet as a full squad yet. The WCHS coaching staff sent out the group assignments to the players this week along with the short term plans for what will be going. Along with conditioning, the players will also be getting physicals next week.
“We are going to have six groups of 18 players and two coaches,” Cokely said about the plan to start the conditioning process. “We have four groups of players in the 10th-12th grades, and two groups for the upcoming ninth-graders. We'll have physicals on Monday, and then workouts on Tuesday-Thursday. We are planning to get in as much work as we can as we ease them back into it. The information we sent the players has the times for each group.”
Like every other program in the state, Cokely said this will be a much different summer than normal, but that the staff and players will have take advantage of the time they've been given and be ready to ramp things up when some restrictions will possibly be removed in the coming weeks and months.
“Obviously it will be very different this summer, but we want to be ready when they tell us it's time,” Cokely said. “I'm just excited about getting things started.”
With the WCHS softball and volleyball team delaying the restart to their summer programs, the football workouts will allow the school administrators, coaches, and training staff to implement all of the safety and health guidelines for the restarting of summer activities.
“It's going to look very different this summer, especially now because you can't use balls or sports-specific equipment," WCHS athletic trainer Brianna Pruitt said. "The safety and health of the athletes is our first priority. We have to screen the kids and the coaches every day. We have to take their temperatures before they are allowed to participate. The players can't go in the locker room, the players have to bring their own water bottles, they have to do stuff like that this summer, so it's going to be different for the athletes”
Pruitt has been in contact with the coaching staff for each sports and is getting plenty of help from the coaches regarding the summer plan.
“The coaches have really taken the lead with this, and they are all getting the specific needs of their sport taken care of. I work with all the athletes, and the coaches are helping make my job easier thanks to all the work they are doing.
Pruitt said conditioning work is important for all the athletes, but especially the athletes that will be competing outside in the heat and humidity of July, August and September.
“It's always important, but this year even more, since a lot of the kids haven't been training for 2-3 months,” Pruitt said. “We have to acclimate these athletes to the weather and the heat of the summer.”
Pruitt said that after a 2-3 month layoff, it won't be an overnight or fast process to get the athletes back into game shape, and she wants to make sure the process is done correctly to avoid injuries once the games begin.
“When you don't workout for three months, it's going to take a lot of time to get that back,” Pruitt said. “We want to build it back up as good can, so we don't have injuries during the season.”
Football players will have physicals on Monday, with sessions beginning at 8 a.m. Players need to report to the auxiliary gym at the time specified, and must leave campus after the physical is finished. The cost of the physicals is $10 per player.
On Tuesday, player workouts will begin at 7 a.m., with groups scheduled throughout the day, with the last group working out from 7:15-8:15 p.m. Workouts will last an hour, and players must leave the campus when their group work is complete.