Caleb Turrentine / Tallapoosa Publishers Tallassee coach John Mask celebrates after a pin.

While most tryouts and evaluation periods have already been postponed, winter sports programs like basketball and wrestling are getting ready to face their next challenge. Elmore County boys basketball coach Rodney Taylor already had plans in place to take his team to Tuscaloosa and Auburn for team camps but those were both canceled and now the AHSAA has canceled all summer competitions.

“The summer gives us the opportunity to play against other competition we may not see in the regular season,” Taylor said. “But it is also about seeing the development from the guys coming back and the new kids you brought on the team and how they play in a game setting. You’re going to miss that aspect so that hurts big time.”

Although tryouts have not happened yet for many winter sports teams, coaches were hoping to see some evaluation time during the summer for at least those players returning. Now that won’t be possible and even if summer training happens, they will likely be without their full team.

“You really can’t (replicate it),” Taylor said. “It will basically be just getting in what you’re going to do strategy wise. You can’t do a lot of scrimmaging based off how the rules are set right now but that could change hour to hour.”

Even with the extra time spent with teammates, building new schemes and strategies may not turn out to be productive and coaches will not know it until the regular season arrives.

“There is a lot more of an unknown there,” Holtville boys basketball coach Michael Collins said. “There is a lot you can tell from practice but sometimes you have to go play somebody you don’t know to see if something works. That’s what I love about the summer competitions. You can learn what is good and what you need to work on.” 

Tallassee wrestling coach John Mask has plenty of experience working through the offseason with his program but it’s going to have a different look this year as wrestling camps are also canceled this summer.

“Normally we have three weeks in June with camps and a few competition dates,” Mask said. “All we can do right now is basically some conditioning. This is the first time that I don’t see us really doing anything over the summer.”

Most coaches are less concerned about missing the summer competitions as they are with missing the spring evaluations. Teams are used to having their rosters set by now but that has not been possible so the AHSAA has set a time period after the beginning of the school year for winter sports to hold tryouts.

“From my perspective, if we’re still allowed to, I will have a tryout period in August before football season gets rolling,” Taylor said. “We don’t know the details yet but we have to have something in place as soon as we can so if I’m allowed to do that, we’re going to do that.”

For this year only, winter sports programs will have the choice to hold a tryout period in the first two weeks of school or start practice a week early. Collins is also leaning toward doing the tryout in August but he said there are positives to both sides and he could still change his mind.

“There’s always an advantage because the more time you can get at practice, the better,” Collins said. “I just have to sit down and balance those things out. If I have a clear core of what I’m going to have, I may take that extra week of practice. But if the football team is in the playoffs and I don’t have some of those guys, it wouldn’t help me as much.” 

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.