County football coaches making adjustments for 2020

By SETH HAGAN | Special to the Reporter

Coaches across the country are having to game plan for an extra opponent this offseason: COVID-19. Nothing truly prepares you for the challenges this disease now presents our country and people around the world trying to remain productive in their respective craft.

When the job includes keeping up with over a hundred players and staff, local high school coaches are finding a way to lead in a crisis.

“It has definitely changed our routine,” said Pelham head coach Tom Causey. “We are getting the kids body weight workouts that they can do on their own and without weights. We are definitely missing the interaction with the kids, but we know the seriousness of the situation and are encouraging them to follow protocol.”

Offseason workouts and spring practices are vital for football programs looking to improve from last season. Weight training and conditioning can be done at home, but it’s almost impossible to adequately replicate the gains that can be made with weight rooms, gyms and stadiums at your disposal.

It’s also nearly inconceivable that teams will be able to simulate the team building and chemistry that typically develops over the spring and summer months.

Being away from all of those facilities is forcing coaches to have to consider tough decisions on what may lay ahead if the current situation doesn’t improve in time.

“From a staff standpoint we are beginning conversations and preparations to adjust our summer schedule to offset the time missed during spring training,” said Helena head coach Richie Busby. “Our biggest concern right now is the time we are missing in the weight room and in player development. All offseasons are important but this off season was especially important to our program after graduating 28 seniors.”

In the confusion of learning safety procedures on the fly, communicating with new and old staff and mixing that with the normal duties of coaching, it’s hard to not let things get lost in the shuffle.

Coaches are trying to build a rapport with their players which, in itself, has its own challenges, and now those are strained even further as COVID-19 keeps everyone at a distance.

Tough times on the field seem so far away and far less significant in light of our present circumstances.

Coaches know their players will be looking to them in this moment and every coach expressed the want and need to build on that foundation with their players.

“This is definitely a situation that we are not used to. We aren’t able to see our players. That’s hard because we value the relationships we have with our kids,” said Chelsea head coach Dustin Goodwin. “We hope that they are training if possible, but the most important thing right now is their safety and the safety of their friends and family members. We look forward to getting everyone back together when this passes.”

Much of what lies ahead remains firmly planted in the unknown. After the Olympics were postponed a year, analysts and journalists are starting to project an inevitable delay to college and professional football which would almost certainly affect the high school ranks.

Whatever the case will be, communities can rest assured the best interests of the students and the families of Shelby County remain on the mind of all administrators, teachers and coaches.