Football coaches gear up for a strange offseason
This past Monday was a big day in the world of high school football. It was the first day of the summer waiver period, which is when high school football teams can hold their summer team workouts. Each team has 11 contact days that they can use between now and Friday, Aug. 7. However, with some COVID-19 restrictions still in effect, it’s going to be an offseason unlike any other.
K-M Head Coach Joel Swanson said the restrictions change often, but right now they mainly have to do with maintaining the proper coach to player ratio and keeping up social distancing.
“At this time to do anything inside, like the fitness center, you can have one coach for nine athletes. Outside, I believe you have to have once coach for 25 athletes. Either way you must continue to ‘social distance.’ This means each athlete has to stay six feet apart. That also means you can't be lifting heavy weights because you won't have a spotter. Challenges to say the least, but safety always comes first,” he said.
Meanwhile, Byron’s Head Coach Ben Halder said the Bears are running their fitness program through ETS Rochester, which has a good plan using the state guidelines.
He also mentioned that the Bears are only using outdoor facilities at this time. In Kasson, Swanson has been preparing for this offseason since April, when he canceled everything the KoMets has scheduled for June.
“I figured families had plenty of adjusting to do and every family's issues varied from one to the next. Besides that I can't see getting a lot accomplished when everyone needs to be six feet apart and athletes can't share equipment. Therefore, what we have done in football is created videos and lessons for the players to be able view. We will also share drills that athletes can do on their own.
“Bottom line is the players will be challenged to be more responsible for his/her own learning. Athletes will be asked to take more ownership in his/her improvement and being able to respond in an adverse situation can be a great life lesson,” he said.
In addition to coping with adversity, Swanson said the student-athletes are coaches are learning flexibility and patience throughout this pandemic.
“We are in the planning stages now as we won't all be together until July and August. The rules are ever changing, you could have everything planned out today but in a few days there could be a spike in cases,” he said. To help prevent the virus from spreading, Halder said they’re keeping the same groups together throughout the summer. Since they can’t be with their whole team, he’s made togetherness one of his points of emphasis this offseason. “The restrictions are tough, but the social interactions the kids are getting are really beneficial for their mental health and overall fitness,” he said.
Meanwhile, Swanson said this offseason parallels the adversity that football players face in a game. “During football games you'll quite often hear me say, ‘What are we made of?’ When things are going good it is easy to be happy, but when adversity hits... ‘What are we made of?’ I hope the players learn lessons that will help them throughout the rest of their lives.”