Just a few days after the Alabama High School Athletic Association announced athletic workouts could resume June 8, Gov. Kay Ivey's amended safer-at-home order moved the workout day up a week.
High school athletic summer activities can now begin June 1, which is none to soon for Limestone County football coaches.
“This is probably the most positive news we've heard in a while,” West Limestone coach Shelby Davis said. “It will be a little different, but it's pretty exciting when the players are texting you about the news before you even know it yourself. That just shows their excitement and their eagerness to get back to work.”
According to the governor's new order, athletic activities are allowed to take place in the state, which would allow for practice beginning May 23 and competitions to be held as of June 15, as long as social distancing and sanitation guidelines are properly followed.
The proposed precautionary measures by the AHSAA coincide with the governor's latest amendment, although the start dates are different.
“It's been a long haul not being able to do anything,” Elkmont coach Duane Wales said. “So I'm very excited to be able to go back. The kids get an extra week; it gives us a little extra time to make up for the lost days we've had. I'm excited to take anything (the state) is willing to give us.”
Another change to the initial AHSAA directive is the elimination of the stipulation that only 10 players could be in a group together. The new directive does not have a limit on the amount of players training or working out together.
The state guidelines say “players, coaches, officials and spectators shall refrain from high fives, handshakes and other physical contact except to the extent necessary … to directly participate in the athletic activity.” Players, coaches and officials are also to “wear a mask or other facial covering that covers his or her nostrils and mouth at all times except when a player or official is directly participating in the athletic activity.” Coaches and players are also not allowed to share water coolers or bottles.
Davis said he and his fellow coaches will take every precaution to make sure the players are as safe as possible during workouts and training sessions.
“We're going to make sure to really err on the side of caution,” Davis said. “We may take it a little farther. We want to make sure our parents know we're putting their kids' safety first. That's the most important thing. At the end of the day, that's what really matters, and that's what we're going to do.”
Wales said he planned to make a run to area stores Friday afternoon to stock up on hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray for the weight room.
“I had one of my assistant coaches call me and say he'd been by this store and that store and they had bottles and spray,” Wales said. “So we're already on the move getting supplies.”
Wales said another concern is to not overwork the players too quickly, as many of them didn't have access to weights or training equipment during the spring once schools closed in mid-March.
“I'm going to assume we've got to start out light, because there may be some kids who haven't had a chance to do much on their own,” he said. “Then we'll work up to full speed. Keeping the kids healthy is the top priority. You just can't jump back out there and go full speed again immediately. We'll take the first two weeks to work ourselves back into shape and slowly start increasing.”
But whatever teams have planned for June 1, coaches and players are just happy to be back on the field.
“Man, we're excited,” Davis said. “June 1 is going to be a very good day.”