COVINGTON, Ga. — Sweat was dripping. Whistles were blowing. Commands were being barked out.
Monday morning, as temperatures remained moderate for a mid-June day in the Peach State, GHSA football returned to the local scene in full force. It was a welcomed sight in Newton County following nearly three months of inactivity.
The Alcovy and Newton varsity football teams kicked off their respective summer conditioning programs Monday, marking their first organized team activities since the GHSA brought athletics to a halt on March 16 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s almost like we’ve gone away and we haven’t seen the kids for a long time. We wish we could hug and put our arms around each one of them, but the social distancing is requiring us to be little bit apart,” Alcovy head coach Jason Dukes said with a chuckle. “It’s great to see these kids again and get back to something that’s familiar.”
Both Dukes and Newton head coach Camiel Grant Jr. noted that they’ve remained in contact with their kids through Zoom meetings over the past couple months. However, that pales in comparison to having players back on campus and working with them face to face rather than from behind a computer screen.
“I don’t care whether we were able to go out onto the field or not. It’s good to be able to just see them.” Grant Jr. said. “Yes, I do want to coach football. But just being able to see the kids and know that they’re OK, that’s exciting.”
Newton and Alcovy divided their teams into groups of 25 or fewer and split them up throughout the day. The Tigers had four groups, while the Rams rolled with six.
Upon arrival at both locations, players had their temperatures checked and underwent a series of GHSA-mandated questions before being cleared to participate in team activities. At Newton, they then made their way onto the practice field to begin warming up for conditioning. Meanwhile, Alcovy held the majority of its conditioning drills on the track that encircles its field.
Alcovy, Newton and Eastside — the Eagles were the first Newton County team to begin their summer conditioning program when they did so last Wednesday — will have workouts Monday through Thursday each week until further notice. The GHSA has not yet released a tentative timeline for when other activities, such as weight lifting and 7-on-7 camps, will be able to resume.
In the meantime, the head football coaches in Newton County are grateful for a step in the right direction.
“My message to our kids is we don’t know what’s going to happen today or tomorrow. So whatever we’re allowed to do, if you’ve been blessed with the opportunity to come out here and participate in anything, take full advantage of it,” Dukes said.
More sights from Monday's activities can be seen below: