Summer workouts under LHSAA and Bossier Parish guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will be decidedly different from those in previous years.
But Haughton head football coach Jason Brotherton is ready to start.
High school teams across the state in all sports will be able to begin summer workouts and activities Monday. It will be the first time many of the coaches have seen their players in person since schools were closed on March 16 because of the pandemic. Bossier Parish schools were also on spring break the week before.
“We’re going to try to jump through all the hoops to be able to do some things,” said Brotherton, who guided the Bucs to an 11-3 record and the Class 5A semifinals last season. “It’s just a lot of formalities, a lot of paperwork, a lot of precautions that you have to take to be able to get out there and get any work in.
“We’ve got to try. Eventually you’ve got to start. The more we go without starting, the more out of shape those kids will be when we do start and it’s going to be hot. We’re going to try to get out there and do what we can this week.”
Earlier this week, the LHSAA posted a memo on its website outlining measures recommended by it and the National Federation of State High School Association’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee regarding the “opening up” of high school athletics and activities in Louisiana.
Under the rules in Phase 2, which lasts until June 26, no games, scrimmages or matches will be allowed.
That means there will be no summer league basketball games at Bossier, no Northwest Louisiana high school Dixie baseball league and no 7-on-7 games in football.
All three have been a big part of teams’ preparations for their respective sports seasons.
In Phase 3, teams will be allowed to have only intra-squad scrimmages.
Other guidelines include wearing of face coverings by students with the “exception of swimming, distance running, or other high intensive aerobic activities.” Coaches and staff must also wear coverings.
Group sizes of up to 25 (including adults) in one enclosed location indoors or outdoors with adequate distancing between other groups will be allowed. Individuals within all groups must comply with social distancing during practices.
Coaches and athletes must also undergo temperature checks before practices. There are also rules in place regarding the proper use, cleaning and sanitizing of equipment, including balls.
(A complete list of guidelines is available on the LHSAA website).
Bossier Parish Schools officials formulated their own plan incorporating the LHSAA and National Federation guidelines.
“We’re very fortunate in our parish,” Brotheron said. “Our parish leadership understands coaching and they understand what goes into that and we’re pretty much together in our parish on all of us doing the same thing and all kind of abiding by the same guidelines.
“I think it’s going to be smoother here in Bossier Parish than a lot of other places just because, like I said, it’s a testament to (Superintendent) Mitch (Downey) and (Assistant Superintendent) Jason (Rowland) up there in the central office listening to us, what we need and then telling us what they expect.”
Bossier head boys basketball coach Nick Bohanan, who guided the Bearkats to the Class 3A state championship last season, said he’ll miss the summer league games and team camps the Bearkats normally go to.
“That’s something that’s always real big for us,” he said. “We always do that summer league and three or four team camps. We try to play at least 30 games in the summer. You can almost fill a season, get the guys that were maybe right there — didn’t play a whole lot last year — and you get them that summer experience and you’re ready to go. Not being able to play games they’re going to get that experience during the season I guess.”
But he knows everybody is in the same boat.
“Everybody’s dealing with it, so you can’t do much about it,” he said. “You’ve got to do what you can do.”
Bohanan said the Bearkats may wait until Phase 3 to really get going.
“There’s only so much you can do in Phase 2,” he said. “You’ve got 21 days to Phase 3 to be able to actually do stuff. I think we’ll be able to scrimmage and do one on one. Right now we can’t do any of that, can’t even pass the ball to each other. You can’t share the ball.”
Bohanan said he may have small groups in the gym to work on shooting and ball handling under a coach’s supervision. The players may also do some running in the gym and on the track.
Airline head volleyball coach Regina Digilormo said she doesn’t plan to start workouts until Monday, June 29, when Phase 3 begins.
Brotherton said he plans to keep his workouts outdoors for the duration of Phase 2.
“I think the kids are probably so out of shape I think we can go two or three weeks with just a general conditioning program and a lot of body weight exercises outside,” he said. “Of course we can adjust that if we need to.
“It’ll be fine. It’s just going to take us a little while to get going on Monday. It’s going to take us a while to get going every day because you’ve got to do the temporal scan and you’ve got to fill out the checklist for every kid. It was just a lot of logistical things. It may take us awhile but I’m sure we’ll get it figured out, make adjustments as we go and try to keep the kids safe and try and get some work in.”