Teurlings Catholic football coach Dane Charpentier is among those hoping schools aren’t closed a day later than necessary.
“I’m all out of stuff to do with the kids,” Charpentier joked.
Charpentier, like other high school educators and coaches, is trying to establish some normalcy in what is “such a bizarre situation” with the coronavirus outbreak.
He hasn’t seen any of his students or players in person since the final day schools were open on March 13, and all of Teurlings’ classes, including Chapentier’s physical education courses, restarted online last Wednesday.
Charpentier admits “reality is kind of setting in” — not only with school, but how he and his staff will have to operate with their football team. Teurlings was set to start spring football practices on May 4 with a spring game against Southside scheduled May 14. But whether that happens, assuming schools are let back in, is a guessing game.
“Some people say it’s just like summertime,” Charpentier said. “It’s nothing like summertime, because in summertime, you have everything planned out that you’re going to do. Almost never do you wake up and not have anything to do.
“There’s nothing to do. What are we going to do? You can’t go nowhere. You can’t see nobody. Everything is over the internet, and I’m not a huge fan of that deal as it is.”
Charpentier is among those football coaches who still values the 10 days allotted for spring practice, but some coaches don’t place as much emphasis on padded practices or don’t do it at all. But at the moment, the biggest loss for football coaches is the inability to continue an offseason strength and conditioning program.
“We’ll be out for so long that it will almost be like starting over,” Notre Dame coach Lewis Cook. “So we’re going to have to do a good job of being patient and taking our time in bringing the kids back and trying to get them ready to go. All high school football players and coaches are definitely going to feel some effect, and it will be different than it has been in the past.”
Normally, the LHSAA allows teams to choose between two spring football practice windows. Most programs choose the later one, which would begin April 27 this year.
Teams are allowed to practice with or without pads for 10 days, which can be spread out how a coach sees fit. Some do it over the course of a month, while Charpentier uses a somewhat “old-school” approach of 10 straight days of practice.
Cook’s teams usually practice in pads for 10 days over three weeks in the spring, often starting in the last week of April. But Cook stopped playing a varsity spring game partially because of players arriving late from baseball season. Over the past three years, Notre Dame’s junior varsity team has scrimmaged Vermilion Catholic’s varsity team.
“In fact, the last week of spring, we’ve taken the pads off of the veteran guys — those have been playing regularly on Friday nights as sophomores and juniors,” Cook said. “They’ve been out there. We know what we’re getting from them. It gives us a chance to highlight the younger guys more.”
If a team decides not to use spring practices, it can start fall camp in August a week sooner. That’s how first-year Catholic-New Iberia football coach Scott Wattigny plans to operate at his new school, using spring to focus on strength and conditioning.
He hasn’t conducted spring practice for the past four years as the Hannan coach, believing it’s too much of a chore for multi-sport athletes and coaches.
“In my opinion, you’re saying to coaches and kids, ‘Go be the very best you can at one sport, but know that we’re going to have football practice happening right after this takes place,’ ” Wattigny said. “From a mental standpoint, I think that can be very draining and really create a conflict of interest.”
But as far as prespring workouts, most high school athletes don’t have access to the equipment normally used in a weight room, forcing coaches to come up with workout plans that involve body weight or cardio exercises.
“The big deal with that is nobody has equipment at their house like we have in the weight room, so there’s a lot of modification going on,” Charpentier said. “The main thing is, like I told the kids, ‘Whenever we do come back, some teams are going to come back out of shape, and some teams are going to come back in a little bit better shape. We want to be one of the teams that comes back ready to hit the ground running, obviously.’ ”
Notre Dame started online classes Monday, and Cook said athletes were sent a “general strength” workout plan, a familiar routine to players that features pushups, situps and other core exercises. They were also sent a running and jumping program.
“Most of them are so bored they’re looking for things to do anyhow,” Cook said. “They’ll do some of them for sure, and a lot of them will do as much as they can.”
Even with his reservations about technology, Charpentier and his staff have tried to keep football players engaged virtually, and they’ve actually found a silver lining.
All of Charpentier’s football players take one of three physical education classes, and now that the school is using Google Classroom to teach courses, Charpentier realized he could use that technology as a coaching tool.
Using an application called Screencastify, Charpentier can simultaneously record a short video of himself and what’s on his computer screen. He’s using that to conduct offensive and defensive installations and hopes that will alleviate the time needed to meet with individual position groups.
“There are obviously 100 different kinds of meetings you can have as a football team. In high school, you can’t find the time to do that,” Charpentier said. “It’s not like college where you have a four or five-hour block of the day chunked out. … I think what this tool does is it allows us to find a creative way to bring information to the kids, even though it’s not in a face-to-face meeting.
“Obviously kids are a lot more used to dealing in a virtual world than we are even, so it should be pretty good, I think.”