After months of uncertainty and waiting since the coronavirus pandemic shut down all high schools sports around the state, teams will get a chance to come out of hibernation today.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards moved the state to Phase 2 Friday, and a vote by the LHSAA executive committee last week allowed teams to restart some activities.
"Everyone is eager to get started," Sulphur first-year football head coach Chris Towery said. "We have 130 kids signed up for summer workouts."
Vinton head basketball coach Keith Kelley is ready for a return to some kind of normalcy even if there are still restrictions.
"They are absolutely ready to get back into the gym, field, or on the baseball diamond," Kelley said. "I am an adult and I have a car and can go places and do things.
"They (players) have their sports and friends. That is their circle. If I were them, I would be so ready to get back. I am ready for some normalcy and ready to see my kids. If you talk to any coach, they will say they are ready."
The LHSAA released a 21-page document listing recommendations for returning to weight rooms and practices such as daily temperature checks and health screening questions and as sanitizing all surfaces and equipment.
One of the biggest hurdles in Phase 2 is that teams must keep groups to less than 25, including coaches, to limit the chances of a coronavirus outbreak. That group must stay the same throughout Phase 2. Players can't move to another group or interact with another group.
For basketball, that means the all-important summer camp circuit is still off-limits as are scrimmages.
"We can't have more than 25 kids in the gym at a time," Kelley said. "They want us to work with pods of kids.
"If I have three kids in a pod, those three kids can handle the same basketball and will be in the same pod every day so that we can limit contact and exposure to other kids. During the workouts we are not going to compete against each other until the next phase; no one-on-one and two-on-two. Ours is going to be skill-based; passing, triple threat stuff. All individual type of workouts. Normally, June is an unbelievably busy month for me and the kids. We are usually playing 20 games, traveling to team camps, and we
usually host one at our place. But we are going to do everything the state allows, maintaining social distancing and keep the kids safe as possible."
Towery stressed efficiency. With more than 130 kids expected, the Tors have set up groups of 22. With two hours max allowed for each group, Towery and his staff will be busy from sun up to sundown.
We get kids for two hours a day," Towery said. "Within that two hours, we can do some individual football stuff, lift and run.
"We have an indoor plan and outdoor plan. We can't do any mass group stuff. No 7-on-7, no scrimmages, no intrasquad work. Even with the limited drill work, we will keep it in very small groups. The quarterbacks will be by themselves. "We have a good plan to bring them in and out of the weight room. We are going to get them in there and be real efficient with our time. It is going to take us all day to get them all in and out of the weight room. We are going in groups of 22. We are excited about it. Everyone is really ready to get going."
While players were given suggested workout lists during the downtime since schools closed in mid-March and no spring practice, Towery said the focus will be making up for lost time and conditioning to get players ready for the fall.
"Obviously it is going to have an effect," Towery said. "We didn't have a spring practice, and we are trying to implement an offense.
We have been able to do some of it through video meetings.
"We are just trying to minimize the effect. We will do a little drill work, but the main thing is strength and conditioning. We have to prepare their bodies for a real football practice. Right now they are not prepared for that."