With the coronavirus pandemic still a huge wildcard for the coming school year, area coaches are doing their best to prepare for what could be a tricky fall season of sports.
This year’s planning and preparation, particularly for football and volleyball, are vastly different than 2019, and it has been a challenge.
But people are starting to adjust.
Coaches and players are finding ways to say in touch, while athletes work on their own to stay fit for the coming seasons, and so far, spirits are a lot higher than one might think.
“The biggest thing was a change in the day-to-day routine we are all used to,” said Flower Mound football coach Brian Basil. “We missed out on an important developmental time frame for our players in the weight room and on the field with spring football.”
Basil said that education and sports are a “relationship-based” businesses that require regular nurturing, which the suspension and eventual cancellation of classes and activities prevented.
“We miss the day-to-day interaction and relationship-building that is at the core of what we do,” Basil said.
Marcus volleyball coach Danielle Barker said that missing the spring season was a bit of a mixed bag for her team, and actually fostered something in many of her players she finds encouraging.
“The first half of offseason is all about strength and conditioning, team building, and leadership training,” Barker said. “The second half, post-spring break, is all about volleyball training and team building. We missed all of the volleyball training. But the positives are that the girls can get the rest needed.
“They are always doing school sports or club sports and often don’t get the rest and recovery their bodies need. This situation has also reignited the love of the game for them. They miss it so much and will be very eager to play and learn and compete.”
Guyer football coach Rodney Webb said his team has lost more than two months of prep time, which has been challenging, but added that all teams are in the same boat and said that he, his coaching staff and players are trying to take it all in stride.
“The kids at Guyer have handled it as well as anyone could expect,” Webb said. “The majority of them have maintained a good workout regimen. I’ve just told them to keep active, and be ready for a busy summer.”
Liberty Christian football coach Steven Greek said one thing that he has found especially touching is the way his players have continued to encourage one another, “creatively learning new ways to stay in shape and grow during this time.
“As a coaching staff, we have told them that during times like this is when everything we learn through team sports, competition, and specifically football – this is where it all kicks in,” Greek said. “This is where we put faith in action. Be a leader, pursue excellence, stay steady, and be committed. When adversity strikes, this is where leaders lead. Anyone can lead when it’s easy, or it’s all going right, but some of the best leaders are developed and created through adversity.
“So we have encouraged and challenged them to rise up, step up, and do the little things well. Keep the main thing the main thing. Their faith and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is the center of everything. Out of this daily relationship, come the ability to walk out and live out every other area of our life.”
Flower Mound volleyball coach Jamie Siegel said the coronavirus has made her athletes “even more hungry to get back and compete,” this fall, and said getting through the setbacks surrounding the virus’ outbreak has caused her and her coaching staff to be more resourceful.
“It’s a growth experience,” Siegal said. “I’ve had to get more creative with workouts, like having them weigh their backpacks down with stuff and what not. So, it’s been a growing experience mentally, physically, and emotionally for all.”
Argyle volleyball coach Megan DeGroot is losing seven seniors from this past year’s team that reached the regional semifinals and said the spring would have given her the opportunity to work on building relationships with Argyle’s underclassmen.
In spite of the difficulties the Lady Eagles have faced, DeGroot said the COVID-19 outbreak is not the most challenging thing she has encountered as a coach.
“Volleyball is a year-round sport, so to some of these athletes this break has been much needed,” DeGroot said. “For many of them, it has allowed their minds to reset, which allows for a stronger desire to play and be fully present in practice when we begin to work with them.”
University Interscholastic League Communications Director Julia Atkins said, with the uncertainty of the resurgence of the virus and where everything will be in three months, the UIL has not adopted contingency plans just yet.
“At this point in time and given the rapidly changing nature of the situation, it’s too premature for UIL to speak to potential fall contingencies,” Atkins said. “UIL continues to monitor the situation and follow the guidance of state, local and federal officials.”
Atkins said the UIL did release information regarding summer strength and conditioning requirements and guidelines that allows schools to resume some UIL activities beginning June 8.
“These requirements are intended to allow students to safely get back to working with their coaches and directors in preparation for the fall season,” Atkins said.
“We are cautiously optimistic about beginning summer strength and conditioning programs and marching band practices that safely allow students to get back to working with their coaches and directors in preparation for the 2020-2021 school year,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt.
“While we are eager to resume UIL activities, we must do so carefully, deliberately and with an understanding that major adjustments are needed to ensure safety. The requirements outline an approach designed to help schools mitigate risk while ensuring students are physically prepared to return to activities in the fall, should state and federal guidelines allow.”
Argyle football coach Todd Rodgers said all of his athletes are working out individually at home and have maintained a positive attitude throughout this ordeal, and said that even though this is a difficult situation, it is important to remember that we are all in this together.
“It’s been a challenge, but it’s the same for everyone,” Rodgers said. “I think we have learned a lot about ourselves, and we will move forward with new enthusiasm.”