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Rebels asked to get 'creative' during break
In addition to leading the Rebels' baseball team, he will serve as the wide receiver coach and special teams coordinator for football. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff
Chris Johnson
Rebels head coach Chris Johnson - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

SPRINGFIELD — In baseball, it’s imperative that a player’s arm doesn’t grow cold.

And with spring sports on ice for the foreseeable future because of COVID-19, the Effingham County Rebels aren’t sitting around waiting for their next game.

After Gov. Brian Kemp called for schools to be closed early this month, Rebels head coach Chris Johnson met with his players and encouraged them to stay active. He encouraged them to be creative.

Johnson suggested everything from hitting wiffle balls to playing in an open park as an acceptable use of their time and energy.

“What our kids will do on their own is continue to throw the ball on their own and try to get together in small groups as a team whenever they can and try to continue at least throwing and doing some things baseball-wise to help them stay prepared in hopes that we will get to return to play,” Johnson said.

One of the most critical things a baseball player must do is stay mentally engaged during games. Johnson believes it’s imperative for the Rebels to stay in touch with the sport by taking a cognitive approach.

“What it comes down to is taking mental repetitions and putting yourself in (certain) situations — try to do things to help themselves stay prepared in case the opportunity comes that we get to go back and play,” he said. “It could be playing with a buddy in the backyard. They may have a tee of their own of some kind. They have these hitters that you can buy in stores. I am sure some of them have that at home from when they were young.

“This may help keep them responsive baseball-wise.”

Even though he wants his players to work on their baseball skills as much as they can, Johnson is more concerned about community safety during this time.

“We know and understand everything that is going on,” he said. “There is a bigger picture than just baseball right now. We support everything and have no questioning of it.

“We are wanting what’s best for everybody.”