A long awaited return: High School coaches and athletes reunite after long hiatus
Tascosa High School athletes workout at a social distance on the practice turf Monday morning. [Kale Steed/ Press Pass Sports]
It felt more like a Christmas morning across the state of Texas rather than another hot June day.
Thanks to the University Interscholastic League allowing voluntary summer strength and conditioning to return Monday, high school coaches and athletes were ecstatic to reunite with one another for the first time since the ongoing coronavirus pandemic brought sports to a standstill in March.
But on Monday, those months of frustration seemed to all go away thanks to a sense of normalcy with everyone being back to work.
“It’s a surreal feeling,” Tascosa football coach Ken Plunk said. “We were all here three months ago, and then we left and haven’t seen these kids since other than virtually or talking on the phone. We’re all just thrilled to all see each other again.”
Palo Duro football coach Chris Fisher agreed with Plunk’s comments.
“It’s been three months without these kids,” Fisher said. “Google meets and zoom doesn’t compare to this. We love that the boys and girls were just as excited about getting back to work. I’m also proud of my coaches. They’ve all stepped up, and we can’t wait to see where this leads.”
As glad as every coach was to be blowing a whistle, instructing a drill or having fun talking amongst each other, they also have an entire new list of responsibilities to keep the athletes safe due to COVID-19.
Every coach has to throw out the old playbook so to speak and now work with an entire new set of safety guidelines like they never have before.
Fortunately, these coaches are taking the UIL’s leeway extremely serious that ensure all fall sports kickoff in August.
“I commend the UIL,” Fisher said. “They understand if we’re going to play in the fall kids need to be in shape. But we did our COVID screening, and the temperature checks. Our kids are doing a great job of social distancing and doing everything against their nature like high-five’s and hugs.”
Plunk echoed Fisher’s comments.
“It’s taken some organizational planning,” Plunk said. “We are taking temperatures, we are more station oriented, and that helps us spread out. We have to watch who is in our weight room, and sanitize as much as possible. It is way different. It’s not what we’re used to from a workout standpoint, but it’s better than not having workouts at all.”
Both Plunk and Fisher say day one of summer workouts were surprisingly efficient and they will handle each day with patience and progression.