The day has finally arrived.
Monday morning, June 1, high school athletes are allowed to get back to practice. However, that practice will look very different in the new social distancing world.
Strict enforcement guidelines have been put in place by Asa Hutchinson, Governor of Arkansas, and the Arkansas Activities Association.
“We are ready to get going,” said Harrison coach Joel Wells.
Before an athlete can get going, there will be strict guideline that have to be met.
First, the coaches will have to be monitored before practice can begin.
“We have to have our temperature taken each morning,” started Wells. “That will be done by our trainer..”
After the coaches pass the heat exam, they will then become the examiners.
“The coaches will check the temperature of each player every day,” said Wells. “Then they will ask the players a series of questions. If any of them answer yes to any of those, then we send them home.”
There are three questions that the coaches will ask each athlete.
• Do you have a cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat or loss of taste or smell?
• Have you had contact with a person know to be infected with Covid-19 within 14 days?
• Have you had a fever or 100.4 degrees or greater in the last two days?
When an athlete passes each of these questions, then they are allowed to dawn a face mask to practice. Face masks have to been worn most times of practice.
“We will be providing them,” said Wells of the face mask. “But we encourage them to bring their own. We have asked them to bring masks. If they don’t, we have one for them.”
During the extended delay, squads have missed spring football as well as two months of training. Wells feels that it hurts the team in two areas.
“It hurts us in strength, training and conditioning,” he said. “We lost two months of having these kids in the weight room.”
Even though the team has not had face-to-face practice with a coach, the Harrison staff has been in contact with the players through electronic means.
“We have been sending the players workouts for four days a week,” the coach said. “We have a Google classroom meeting where we give assignments. Then we have been meeting with Zoom. We have position Zoom meetings with coaches as well.”
The new guidelines are in effect until June 30 when it will be reevaluated by the state agencies.
“I am hoping that gets moved up,” said Wells. “If things go well, I hope we can get going a little sooner.”
Under the current guidelines, players are allowed to lift, do agility drills and individual football drills. A football is not allowed in the first phase of practices.
The Goblin football team will begin practice at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. They have divided the team into two groups. The second group will come at 9 a.m.
Those two sessions will be divided into three groups.
Practice will only be for the senior high team. Plans are being made to bring the Junior Goblins into practice in July.
Heart of the Ozarks
Other Heart of the Ozarks teams are getting prepared for the upcoming week as well.
Berryville coach Doug Shott is excited to be back on the field.
“You bet we are,” he said after being asked if the team was excited to be practicing. “I just hope this (Covid-19) goes away and we eventually aren’t limited or canceled.”
The Bobcats will be back to practice at 9 a.m. and the team has to go through the same steps that all teams have to meet in the state.
Berryville will be dividing its team into three groups when practice starts.
“We will hit the weight room for some quick sets of squat and clean,” started Shott. “Another group will be on the field working on agilities and cardio and the last group will be in the fieldhouse having chalk talk.”
Berryville’s conference teammate Green Forest will start to work on Monday as well. However, the team is still in search of a new head coach after Bobby Bishop gave his resignation to take a coaching position in Missouri.
Yellville-Summit will begin practice on Monday as well at 9 a.m.
“We are going to bring both our junior high and senior high teams in to practice at the same time,” said Lucas Morris, the head coach of Panther football. “ We don’t know how many kids will be there, but we will be ready.”
With the distancing guidelines, Morris believes that he will only be able to get 12 players in the weight room at a time.
“We only have an hour the first two days of practice,” said the coach. “We will rush them through as much as we can.”
The Panther football team will be sharing their athletes with the basketball team, so the squad will get three days of practice the first week.
Over the past six seasons, the Marshall Bobcat football team has struggled to field enough players for a team. This season the squad will be playing 8-on-8 football.
The Bobcats are not ready to take the field.
“We are in the planning stage right now on how we will proceed,” said Bobcat coach Greg Bigham.