As everyone continues to await final decisions from the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama State Department of Education on when schools can return to campus, the AHSAA has released an update set of guidelines for athletic programs to use this summer. Football coaches have been anxious to find out what their summer camps will look like and that became a little clearer Thursday.
In a release, the AHSAA announced its central board has cancelled all summer competition between schools which includes 7-on-7 camps and OTAs.
“Even though we may be disappointed we won’t get to compete in our usual camps, we sort of anticipated some changes in our summer workout routine so it doesn’t come as a surprise,” Wetumpka coach Tim Perry said. “I would much rather see us not have competition in the summer if that’s going to keep all of the athletes healthy so we can maybe enter in August to start the season.”
Wetumpka hit the road for three 7-on-7 competitions last summer while also hosting five teams in two camps at Hohenberg Field. Other teams focused more on OTAs but either way, those programs will have to find a way to mimic that competitive spirit within their own practices.
“That breaks up the monotony of going and working out against yourselves for eight weeks,” Perry said. “It gives them something to get excited about. Without those, that will be something we have to talk about to try to create some diversity in our summer workouts. We have to keep things fresh and keep them excited about it.”
While missing out on the competition could provide a new challenge, coaches know that is not their biggest concern right now as they are still waiting to just get the team together again.
“From my standpoint, I really expected this,” ECHS coach Jordan Cantrell said. “We wish we would be able to do those competitions but we’ve got a lot of work to do from the conditioning more than anything else. That and getting the guys working together is the biggest thing.”
Conditioning is always a focus during the summer but with summer camps expected to be limited, the conditioning work will likely take over some of the time usually used on schemes and strategies. Coaches still want the chance to install some new things but they also know where priorities will be once football returns.
“We can make up for the football and I really believe that,” Tallassee coach Mike Battles said. “We can get caught up on the X’s and O’s without an issue. The team building and just being together is going to take some time to catch up though so that’s what we will be focused on.”
Some teams are trying to find the silver lining in the latest decision as the lack of summer competitions will force their players to stay focused on their own work rather than how they stack up with other teams in June and July. Coaches will not have to worry about rushing some schemes.
“A lot of people can get sidetracked on the outcome of the OTAs and 7-on-7 but real football is when you put the pads on,” Cantrell said. “It’s great work and great to compete but the real focus is on the fall.”
The cancellation of the summer competitions was just the first announcement in what is expected to be a step-by-step return to sports over the coming months. Without knowing what future decisions will be made by the AHSAA, football programs are still stuck in a waiting mode.
“There’s really no reason for us to try to make plans until they release what we can and can’t do,” Battles said. “We have to know those limitations but right now, there’s no reason to come up with something because tomorrow, something can be released that changes it all. We’re just waiting for direction.”