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NET schools get back to business of practicing

Douglas Fritz • Jun 2, 2020 at 10:00 AM

It’s hard to imagine running sprints on a football field being described as fun, but it sure seemed like a breath of fresh air to see it happening on a sunny June morning after a spring’s worth of inaction.

All across Northeast Tennessee, football players — and athletes from other high school sports — were back in practice facilities Monday as part of the return-to-action plan. Following a long list of detailed guidelines, area schools put their student-athletes back to work after a 2½-month shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s good to see them back out there,” said Dobyns-Bennett athletic director Frankie DeBusk.

Daniel Boone programs taking advantage of the first day of practice freedom were football, cross country and volleyball.

“We have football on campus as we speak,” Boone athletic director Danny Good said Monday morning. “They’re here from 8 a.m. to noon. We have 92 kids who signed up. They are just doing strength and conditioning. We don’t have a ball in place right now.

“Cross country is on course with different groups, just running and doing what they do. Volleyball is inside, using both gyms. They are actually having tryouts.”

At Science Hill, the Hilltoppers were spread out across the campus with various sports getting things done.

Football coach Stacy Carter said his team was busy in the weight room and also doing conditioning on different practice fields.

Anticipation for the athletic restart has been growing at all area schools, among them Dobyns-Bennett.

“You could tell it was building, just having the opportunity to get back and do what they enjoy doing,” DeBusk said. “I told our coaches: Winning is important, but right now we need mentors and father figures and mother figures and to get the kids back to normalcy.”

Student-athletes are subject to temperature checks and multiple health-related questions before they’re allowed to participate in workouts.

Dealing with the logistics of following so many guidelines is part of the process, DeBusk said.

“I think it’s definitely a challenge,” he said. “Taking the temperature of all the kids and asking them questions, and those things are documented and turned into me weekly.”

UNEVEN PLAYING FIELDS?

Not all schools across Tennessee are getting back to practice, however.

For example, Montgomery County schools won’t be allowed in facilities until July 5 at the earliest, The Tennessean recently reported.

Schools in Montgomery County include Clarksville, Kenwood, Rossview and West Creek.

There is plenty of time for such teams to play catch-up, but areas of the state that don’t open until later in the summer might be at a deficit in terms of preparing for the opening week of high school football season — if it starts as currently scheduled.

Contact Douglas Fritz via email at dfritz@johnsoncitypress.com.

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