Social-distanced huddle

Cleburne football ends its first workout in nearly three months with a social-distanced "huddle" on Monday.

Monday marked the beginning of week No. 4 of socially distanced summer strength and conditioning workouts for high school athletes across Texas.

Coaches across Johnson County have been pleased with the work their student-athletes have put in on the fields, courts and weight rooms, as well as how they’ve adapted to COVID-19 protocols.

“I’ve been really proud of the coaches and the kids,” Cleburne Coach Casey Walraven said. “We had a good plan in place and I think it’s been good so far. It’s never perfect but we’ve really stressed the social distancing and they’ve adapted well to it. I think human beings have a herd mentality naturally so it’s hard for kids to not group up. But the coaches have been real diligent and disciplined on keeping everyone spread out. I feel like we’ve done a good job of that.”

Participation numbers at summer workouts have been higher than normal for many Johnson County schools.

“We’ve had double our usual numbers,” Walraven said. “When you have that much time away from each other it’s good to be back around each other. We’ll keep doing the best we can to keep everybody safe and healthy.”

Alvarado Coach Jeff Dixon said he’s been impressed that the Indians have maintained their usually strong participation numbers in spite of the pandemic.

“Our numbers have still been high,” Dixon said. “Our morning session, we had 80 kids [Monday] morning. And in the evening time we’ve had no less than 63 since we started and usually much higher than that. I’m pleased with our kids. They’re hungry to go back to work. We’re doing our part and owning the responsibility of ensuring the safety of them.”

As far as adhering to social distancing guidelines, Dixon said so far so good with the Indians and Lady Indians.

“I’ve been pleased,” Dixon said. “Our biggest challenge has been before workouts start because that’s when parents drop kids off, so we’ve had to really be strategic in making sure folks stay six feet apart before we even start. Other than that, washing hands and doing the screening — taking temperature and ask questions — the actual workouts have all gone well. Our kids are staying distanced. They wear masks as much as possible. That part’s been good.”

Dixon said they’ve held a couple of kids out at times as a precaution.

“We’ve held a couple of kids out that were possibly exposed to the virus,” Dixon said. “They communicated that with us so we held them out until they brought back a negative test, and once we did that we let them back in. We have yet to have a positive result in our camps, so knock on wood, that part has gone well.” 

Joshua Athletic Director Gary Robinson said workouts have been holding steady right near 200 student-athletes from junior high through high school, male and female.

Venus Coach Terry Spray also reports higher participation numbers at Bulldog workouts in eastern Johnson County.

“I think the kids were so excited to get back doing something,” Spray said. “What we’ve done is we start in the afternoon and our numbers have increased tremendously. In the past, we’ve always tried to get it done in the morning and it seemed like for our kids it was hard to get here. So add that to the time off, not being around each other socially, and that brought more kids out, too. They’re just buying in more.”

In Venus, Spray said they’re doing everything with safety of the students at the forefront, even if it means possibly going a little overboard.

“We’re following all of the protocols,” Spray said. “When you hear a kid say, ‘Hand sanitizer again? I just had it.' And we say, ‘Yes, hand sanitizer again.’ Maybe we’re going overboard but we feel we’re keeping them safe. With indoor weight room and that stuff, we’re spraying down after each lift. Yes, it’s more time consuming but it’s worth every moment of it.”

In addition to instructing workouts as usual, Burleson Centennial Coach Kyle Geller said the biggest thing for coaches right now is to make sure students avoid lapses in the Coronavirus protocols. 

“I caught us getting a little lax [Monday] in the weight room so you have to remind the kids about distancing and making sure we clean the bar after every single set,” Geller said. “You just have to stay on top of things. The kids have a good idea of what they need to do. So far so good.”

Grandview and Rio Vista are taking this week off as a holiday week with the Fourth of July, but Zebra Head Coach Ryan Ebner said workouts have been going well the first three weeks.

“I think the kids have been doing a good job of dealing with the rules and guidelines of what we have to do,” Ebner said. “The hardest part is keeping them socially distanced because they naturally herd together. When it’s all said and done, it’s been good as far as getting the work in.

Godley Coach Curtis Lowery said even with the strict guidelines to combat COVID-19, it’s been good for coaches and student-athletes to be reunited the past three weeks.

“Everybody understands how serious this is,” Lowery said. “It could be shut down real quick so the kids and our coaching staff have done every possible thing we can to keep everything sterile and sanitized. The kids have been working really had and doing a good job. They’re excited to be back around their friends. We’ve had some good workouts. It’s been nice to be back around the kids and seeing them work out.”

Despite several record-setting days last week in Texas in terms of COVID-19 cases, the only school in the county to shut down workouts due to COVID-19 to this point has been Burleson ISD. On June 14, Burleson High and Centennial High suspended workouts after a student tested positive two days after attending a vigil to honor the life of Tre Allison. Workouts at Centennial resumed June 17 while Burleson High’s workouts started back on June 22.

Geller said he doesn’t have any complaints about how the Spartans’ workouts have gone, especially considering the circumstances.

“I think our kids are working really hard and we’ve had great numbers,” Geller said. “I wish they were a little more consistent at times but that’s going to happen in the summer. But under the circumstances, it couldn’t be better.”

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