D190928 East Lawrence vs Hatton

Hatton head coach Denton Bowling talks to one ofhis assistants during the game at East Lawrence High School on Friday. [JERONIMO NISA/DECATUR DAILY]


Summer could be the start of a return to sports for high schools in Alabama. 

At least that’s the plan. 

Last week Alabama State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey laid out a plan that would reopen schools in the summer for groups of 10 or less. While not a finalized plan, if it holds up it would be a return for student athletes to begin summer conditioning

It wouldn’t be the ideal scenario, but at least it would be a start. At least, that’s the mindset of Hatton head football coach Denton Bowling. 

“It’s good to hear that we might be able to get back. I know we as coaches will be excited to see our kids again,” he said. “We haven’t really made a plan yet, because there’s still too much unknown, but it’s good to hear there is a plan.” 

Whether or not working on your team in groups of 10 would be feasible is something Bowling isn’t quite sure of yet.

“We have a lot of multi sport athletes at Hatton and last summer we averaged around 120 boys and girls working out a day. When you start looking at the logistics of it you can see where it might be tough,” Bowling said. “But anything is possible. You would have to be creative, but honestly a return to any kind of normalcy is a step in the right direction.” 

High school football usually starts in the end of August, with practices starting at the beginning. For now the plan of starting with small groups in June and going to full time in July would allow for football to start on time. Bowling shared just how long they would need to get ready for a season. 

“The biggest thing is heat acclimation,” he said. “You’d need about six weeks for the kids to get acclimated to the heat to ensure their safety. As long as it starts in June I would think that would be plenty of time. Now if we don’t meet at all until July, that’s when you start having problems.” 

All high school football teams went without spring practice. Should extra time be given to make up for the lost practices? Bowling doesn’t think it’s needed.

“High school football has changed so much in the past 10 years. Even spring practices now are regulated,” said Bowling. “The biggest thing we use spring for is to evaluate what we have and make a plan for the summer. It’s bad to not have that, but at the same time I don’t think it’s a huge loss.” 

Will football and other sports resume as scheduled in the fall? Only time will tell. 

“I’m in the wait and see game right now. I’m one of the most organized guys out there but I haven’t made any plans because to me it’s pointless if you don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Bowling. “It’s a tough situation we’re in and obviously nothing we do is worth risking the health of these kids. But hopefully things can begin to return to normal in the summer. I’m excited to finally move forward.”

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