BY JIM MISUNAS
It took one day to erase nearly three months of inactivity.
High school sports have been shut down since March 13 when Kansas State High School Activities Association directors canceled the 2020 state basketball tournaments because of fear about the coronavirus. No spring sports were conducted and schools held online spring classes.
But Great Bend, Hoisington and Larned headlined area schools which resumed summertime athletic workouts Monday.
Great Bend started the day with temperature checks and split groups into 15-player units. The Great Bend girls enjoyed record attendance for summer conditioning.
“The players were anxious to get out,” said Great Bend football coach Erin Beck. “The guys were waiting in the parking lot ready to go. We took temperatures and followed safety guidelines.”
Great Bend’s athletic coaches were equally anxious to break 79 days without seeing their future athletes.
“Everyone feels better getting back into a routine,” Beck said. “When I went home, everything felt right with the world. It felt good to be back with our players.”
With so many unknowns about what athletes had done the past 10 weeks, Great Bend’s staff were mindful of starting slowly.
“It’s a great opportunity to teach the fundamentals from the ground up,” Beck said. “We focus on proper warmup, technique, running and jumping. Your body is not ready for full speed stuff. You have to be careful because you risk injury if you go too fast.”
Beck said the slow-paced training should be beneficial.
“The athletes were awesome. Everything ran smoother than we thought,” he said. “Everyone is on the same page and we’ll slowly build as the summer goes along.”
Each sport will introduce more specific drills as the summer goes along. Weight training will eventually be added. Team-oriented drills can start in July. The summer period will allow nine weeks of training.
HOISINGTON CARDINALS – Hoisington football coach Zac Baird enjoyed being back with his returning players.
“It feels more normal. Just being around one another, upped my spirits,” Baird said. “It requires a large amount of preparation to get ready for nine football games. You can’t skip any work.”
Baird said the players maintained their strength through weight training, but they would be careful with running and conditioning.
“They are as rusty as they’ve ever been and we’ve modified workouts,” he said. “We want make sure we ease into things and we’re safe.”
One thing that hasn’t changed in Baird’s emphasis for performing each drill or skill the right way.
“A lot of football is mental and you have to be committed to do things right,” he said. “You want to make sure you finish your drills and gain a mental edge. That helps teams become successful. We’re blessed with hard-working kids and I’m never worried about that.”
Baird said the lost spring season robs athletes of a valuable learning exercise.
“In all sports, there are so many life-lessons you can’t learn anywhere else,” he said. “You’re fighting for one goal and personal success doesn’t matter. It’s about team success. It’s vital for our young guys to learn that and be productive citizens.”