The Georgia High School Association (GHSA) last month told its member schools that they could begin hosting voluntary summer workouts for its student-athletes beginning June 8.
Many schools jumped at the opportunity to have students on campus again while some held out to wait and see if conditions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic would improve. Baldwin High School was one such school that decided to wait, and it looks as though that waiting will continue past the Fourth of July holiday. BHS head football coach Jesse Hicks spoke with The Union-Recorder Thursday and shared his plans for bringing his players in for summer workouts so they aren’t too far behind the competition should the 2020 season go on as planned. And it seems as though a normal season is the direction the state is heading. Georgia’s governing body for high school sports initially laid out in its guidelines to schools that only 20 people — players and coaches combined — could be present during a workout session at a time, forcing most programs to split their players up into shifts. That number was upped to 25 this week, and can double to 50 beginning Monday. At first, the workouts were strictly for lifting weights and conditioning as no sport specific equipment (i.e. balls and helmets) was allowed. Starting Monday, sport specific equipment will be permitted, but scrimmaging will not.
The GHSA has a “dead week” in place each summer the week of July 4 where no workouts or organized team activities are allowed. Hicks said he’ll bring his players in beginning Monday, July 6, and start playing catch up with the schools who elected to host workouts sooner.
“We’re not going to go four days a week like we usually do during the summer,” the veteran head coach said. “We’re going to go five days because we’ve missed so much.”
With the number of people allowed in for workouts increasing so rapidly, Hicks believes that little or no restrictions will be in place by the time his team reports. That does not mean caution will not be exercised locally.
“Even if they lift the restrictions, we will keep those restrictions when we start to work out,” he said.
While waiting on being given the green light to report, the Baldwin coaching staff has asked players to “attend workouts” via online video conference platform Zoom. Hicks estimated that about 50 of his players have been signing on regularly. He does not regret choosing to operate the way he has these past few weeks given local statistics with the ongoing pandemic.
“I think what we did was the smart thing and the best thing for our kids. The safety of our kids has to be paramount over everything.”
Meanwhile, plans are being put in place for when players do start coming in for workouts. The team has three thermometers to check temperatures of kids and coaches before they enter the facility and cleaning procedures are being determined. Hicks and coaches around the state are walking the line between being cautious while also trying to prepare their players for another grueling football season.
“We’ve got to prepare and get ready,” Hicks said. “We’ve got everything ready to roll, we just gotta see if the good Lord’s going to let us play and I hope he does.”
Hicks not only holdout
Hicks’ program is far from the only one in the state to keep its players away from campus despite the fact that workouts were allowed. DeKalb County reportedly will not start until June 22 or later and Hicks shared that Fayette County will wait until after the dead week as well.
Long County High School in southeast Georgia actually had a player or coach test positive for COVID-19 recently and announced they would shut down workouts until after the dead week.