Jesse Hicks

Baldwin head coach Jesse Hicks talks to his players during halftime of a 2019 regular season game. Hicks says his team will not begin summer workouts on June 8 due to concerns related to COVID-19.

While some high school football coaches across the state were elated to learn they could have their players in for voluntary summer workouts starting June 8, one local coaching veteran is not on board. 

While that is the first date workouts will be allowed, it is still up to individual school systems, schools and coaches as to whether or not their teams will begin that day. Baldwin High School head coach Jesse Hicks told The Union-Recorder in a Thursday phone interview shortly after the GHSA trustees’ ruling came down that he will exercise that right.

“Just because that’s the day they set aside doesn’t mean it’s going to be the start date for Baldwin,” he said. “We don’t know what’s going on with this thing. We keep trying a natural order to this and it’s not working.”

School sports activities have been shut down since March when Gov. Brian Kemp closed campuses to slow the spread of COVID-19. The state is slowly reopening, but schools have not been part of that equation as they were mandated to remain closed through the end of the 2019-20 academic year. Students and their families are not even able to gather traditionally for graduation ceremonies. Baldwin High School held commencement virtually over the weekend and is among the many schools across the country that will try to hold normal graduation at some point over the summer. 

Hicks said there are too many unknowns out there to go ahead and allow kids in for summer workouts, even with restrictions on numbers and symptom screening.

“I don’t know why we can’t be smart enough to say we don’t know and just cease and desist until we get something better,” he said. “If that means don’t play football or have no sports, then don’t do it. A loss of life is not worth sports. I know it sounds crazy coming from me as a coach.”

Hicks, entering the fourth year of his second tenure at BHS, pointed to hotspots like Albany with an extremely high case rate as an example for how chaos could be introduced into the 2020 season. Some schools may be able to return to normal in August, but those in heavy-hit areas may not, which could wreak havoc with teams’ already set schedules. 

“I think we’re putting sports in front of life and education,” Hicks said. “I wouldn’t want to do anything with anybody’s child or husband or wife or whoever’s working with football whether it be a coach, child or trainer until I knew if we were even going to go back to school.”

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