Football, softball, cross-country to begin conditioning
Jones County High School will begin holding limited voluntary conditioning sessions for football, softball and cross-country athletes on Monday, June 8.
All school sports have been shut down since March 13 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Georgia High School Association ruled May 21 that schools could begin limited summer conditioning programs on June 8 as long as they follow a strict set of guidelines devised to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Jones County administrators and coaches have been working and planning since then on how to structure their workout sessions to abide by the guidelines.
They say they welcome the opportunity to resume personal interaction with their players and the chance to begin getting them ready for fall seasons, though the restrictions will be a challenge.
The biggest obstacles will be limiting workout groups to no more than 20 people, including coaches and athletes. And the workouts are limited to weight-training and conditioning drills that prohibit the use of sport specific equipment such as balls or bats.
The GHSA also clarified last week that only one group per sport may be on campus at the time, so that will present scheduling difficulties for sports with large numbers of players.
“We already have 139 players on our list and are expecting a big group of incoming ninth graders, so we could wind up with 155 to 160 players,” football coach Mike Chastain said. “We’re still putting together lists and trying to decide who to group together – whether we do it by grade, by position, by how much they could lift before we shut down. Then with the limit of only 20 on campus at the time, we will have to schedule the groups to be coming in all through the day. We hope to have all that worked out by the end of the week so we can get going on Monday.”
Cross-country coach Geoff Moore said he is expecting 70 to 80 athletes to take part in the summer conditioning.
“In the past, we’ve had a 7 a.m. session and 6 p.m. session in the summer and let the kids decide which one they wanted to do. But now with the groups we’ll have to break them up and do more sessions,” he said.
Moore said he is planning to take a couple of groups himself and have assistant Jeanine Wilson take the other two.
“We will also have to have two locations. We’ll have one set going from the pecan grove (next to the Jones County Pre-K campus) and running mostly through town, and the others will go to our course off of Howard Roberts Road,” Moore said.
New Jones County softball coach Trip Burt said the Lady Hounds usually have weight lifting and batting practice sessions three days a week during the summer. Batting practice is still prohibited for now, so the softball workouts will be limited to weight lifting and possibly some running for now.
“We’ll have to have at least two groups. We’re still working on a schedule and setting up the groups,” he said. “Hopefully everything goes well these first couple of weeks doing the conditioning and the GHSA will allow us to do batting practice and some work on the field by the start of July.”
Chastain said he also hopes more football-related work can begin in a few weeks.
“We’re going to do whatever the rules say and be as careful as we can to keep people safe. But we’re all looking forward to getting back to working on football skills and getting ready for the season,” Chastain said.