It was a much anticipated return for Lawrence County athletes when they were finally able to return to workouts last week.
After roughly a three month break shall we say, the athletes were ready to get back to work.
And after a week in, how has it been going? So far so good.
“It’s been going great,” said Lawrence County head football coach Rich Dutton. “I think the kids have been really hungry to get back to doing things like this. Their attitudes have been really good.”
It’s a slow process starting out as the athletes have been unable to work out, at least in team functions, since the closing of schools back in March. Players will need to be given the appropriate amount of time to get back into shape before getting into the tough part of summer conditioning that is expected.
“It’s something we have to deal with and it’s up to us as coaches to recognize that and come up with a plan to ease back into what we need to be doing,” Dutton said. “I may be a little optimistic, but I’m hoping for, after two more weeks, starting to hit things hard. Right now we’re doing quick bursts and not chasing too hard in the weight room.”
Of course while it’s nice to be back, it’s still not business as usual, at least not yet. Social distancing is a big part of the return to workouts. Players are working in small groups and wearing masks when inside.
They’re also holding each other accountable, telling each other to stay six feet apart, which Dutton says can be tough.
“In football and in most sports you have the routine of breaking things down after workouts or just wanting to be a team and connect with each other,” Dutton said. “That’s probably been the most difficult challenge we’ve faced is keeping that social distancing going on.”
However, Dutton cites the player’s attitudes has a big catalyst in helping them achieve social distancing goals.
“Their energy has really been what’s made this all possible,” Dutton said. “If they came in every day dreading it, we wouldn’t be able to get this done. But they’ve came in everyday with a great attitude and plenty of energy.”
Social distancing is expected right now, but if teams plan to start practice back at the end of July and the season in August, eventually they will need to be able to come together as a team.
“I may be wrong, but I think June 15 is when we can maybe move towards regular workouts,” Dutton said. “If so what we’d do is meet in position groups to install our playbook. Then eventually come together as a complete team if the state allows it.”
That’s the plan, but right now any plan can change at the drop of a hat.
“One thing I’ve learned in this profession is that it’s good to have a plan, but you need to be ready to change that plan,” said Dutton. “What we’re facing now is something that has never been faced before. It’s the kind of summer that these kids will grow up to tell their kids about.”
“Hopefully though,” he added, “it’ll be the only summer like this they have to tell them about.”