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Rebels set to get to work amid restrictions
Zach Garcia
COVID-19 guidelines will preclude Rebels quarterback Zach Garcia from throwing to his receivers when football activities resume June 8. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

SPRINGFIELD — Starting June 8, GHSA teams will be allowed to take part in voluntary conditioning on campus but with quite a few restrictions.

One of the major stipulations in guidelines designed to combat COVID-19 is that the workouts cannot involve any equipment related to the sport. For volleyball, softball and football players, this will certainly be a challenge for their development in the sport throughout the time the order is in place.

 Football coaches, in particular, will have to find creative ways to adhere to the rules because there are limitations regarding the number of people per group. 

For instance, groups must be limited to 20 participants they may not condition with another group. All student-athletes will be required to use their own water bottle.

 In addition, visitors are not permitted and the GHSA suggests wearing face masks while in the weight room.

Perhaps the greatest challenge is that schools can only have one group of student-athletes on campus at a time.

“Whatever group you start with, the next day we have to have that same group of people,” Effingham County head football coach Buddy Holder said. “There is going to be a lot of organization, time slots and you have to have at least 15 minutes between groups to be able to desanitize whatever area you use.”

The GHSA also recommends that anyone participating in conditioning be screened before every workout. Schools are also required to have an Infectious Disease Prevention Plan.

Although athletes are not required to participate in any conditioning activities, Holder believes his players are ready to work out as some haven’t been able to access a facility for training in more than two months. He’s looking especially forward to training incoming freshmen who need to get acclimated to high school weight training.

“We think getting them in the weight room and getting them reacclimated to that, especially our young kids (is going to be good),” Holder said. “We haven’t had our hands on them at all to teach them anything. We just have to get them going again. You have to get everybody going in the right direction because everybody has been gone for so long. It’s going to be good to get back with the kids.

“We are going to focus on the weight room first. A lot of our kids have been working out at different places. That’s how the recruiters are recruiting now. Our kids have gotten some attention from some things they’ve done. But still, they want to see you play football obviously. I think our kids want to get back in the weight room because some of them haven’t been able to get into the weight room.”

The restrictions put some players in a bind, especially those on offense. Wide receivers, running backs, quarterbacks and tight ends may find the new requirements challenging as the football will be excluded from their workouts.

“If you go on the field, you have to be six feet apart,” Holder said. “You can’t use a ball, sled or equipment. There are going to be a lot of small groups and a lot of adjusting.”