It’s not that high school football coaches have never been thrown curve balls before.
It’s not that disinfecting locker rooms have never been part of a coaching staff’s protocol.
But coaches all over the Acadiana area are bracing for a summer, and then a fall, unlike any they’ve experienced.
“Having it is better than not having it, but a lot of people are going to have to understand that we all need to be patient and we’re going to have to do things we’ve never, ever had to do at any time in our careers,” Loreauville football coach Terry Martin said.
When the summer session officially begins on June 8, players will be able to work out, but only in groups under 10 during phase one and then under 25 in phase two.
Coaches will need to maintain social distancing and every player’s temperature will have to be taken each day.
For many high school coaches across the Acadiana area, returning to action could ease tension during these anxious times of the coronavirus shutdown.
“It’s definitely going to be foreign,” Church Point coach John Craig Arceneaux said. “In phase two, we’re going to put them in groups and those groups aren’t going to get to mix through the month of June. That way if we do have a kid that gets sick, we can just quarantine or shut down that group, as opposed to having to shut down the entire team. Of course, we’ll be taking temperatures.
“We have protocols in place for staph and things like that. During the season, we disinfect our locker room twice a week and our training room three times a week. We’re going to have to be very vigilant and really be on the side of doing it way more than is practical. If they’re telling us to do it three times a week, we’re probably going to do it five.”
Martin said even some of the basics during the summer — like supplying water to players — will be more complicated than normal.
“Getting them water is going to be a huge, huge issue,” Martin said. “We can’t use water foundations, we can’t use the water bottles we’ve always used, we can’t use the sophisticated hydration machines. You can’t use any of that. What they’re saying is, they have to bring their own or they have to use a single disposable cup. And the person putting water in the cups has to be masked and gloved.
“We’re talking about building the old pvc type water things we used to have. Those things would have algae in them. But we’ll to come up with a way of draining them after each usage and there’s a minimum of at least six feet between each one drinking and that it shoots at least three or four feet to where they can’t touch it or sweat on it.”
Keeping players apart could be the biggest difficulty for coaches.
Arguably the best run of any high school baseball coach in the history of the Acadiana area has ended.
“If we have to put one coach with every nine kids, it’s going to be painful, but we’ll figure it out,” Comeaux coach Doug Dotson said. “We can separate them when they’re with us, but what happens if you have two best friends in different groups? After practice, they’re going to be playing video games at one of their houses. Not everybody is adhering to ‘stay away’. At some point, we’ll be trying to control something that we don’t really have control over.”
Martin agrees, fearing “kids are always play-fighting. It’s so ingrained in everything they do. It’s going to be no touching, no sharing cell phones.”
The other change for some coaches will be the type of strength and conditioning utilized this summer.
“That’s why we’re going to take more of a function training approach,” Arceneaux said. “We know some of our kids have been working out, but we’re going to take the approach that our kids have sat around for eight weeks.
“So we’re going to have June, July and the first half of August to get them in shape and make sure we’re functionally ready to go. We understand that we’re going to have to miss that heavy strength-training component, but it is what it is.”
High school football coaches all across the Acadiana area are starting to feel pretty lonesome for their players these days.
Breaux Bridge football coach Chad Pourciau said getting players in shape will be more difficult with the restrictions. He’s also concerned any shortcomings in that area will result in more injuries down the road.
“I hope it doesn’t end up this way, but I would expect to see an injury increase this year just because kids aren’t going to be in as good a shape,” Pourciau said. “There will be less weight room time and they just won't be as prepared as they would be in a normal year. We’ve got to accept that and try to get them as prepared as we can.”
Taking it slow in June could also prevent short-term injuries as well.
“I think it’s something everybody has to be worried about,” Martin said. “It’s all the jumping and the running and the cutting that we normally do. If you take the whole weight room out, I think it’s a legitimate concern for everyone.
“When we do come back, how fast do you do full-speed movements or any type of drill where you’re actually going full speed and trying to change direction?”