Area football coaches: Self-motivation key for players during pandemic break

Coaches say focus on grades, working out on falls on players

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – High school football spring practice is scheduled to begin in roughly a month, but that may not happen as planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new normal? A lot of self-motivation when it comes to academics and staying in shape.

Area coaches say they are stressing to players to use the adjusted schedule to seriously concentrate on grades and coursework. Distance learning will take much more accountability and attention to detail than going to a classroom daily.

Then get of the house — remember to adhere to the safe social distancing protocol — and work out however possible. The start of spring football in high school, April 27, looks extremely ambitious at this point due to the pandemic.

“I tell them all the time, Herschel Walker didn't have a gym when he was growing up, so he had to do some old school stuff,” said First Coast coach Marty Lee.

“So besides doing your schoolwork online, we want you to stay out, get some physical activities. So, for example, you can get out in your driveway. You set some water bottles up and do cone drills. You can set up paper plates and do your drills. You can do your box drills. You can do push ups and sit ups. So, we’re encouraging them to do that.”

Mandarin coach Bobby Ramsay said that his staff looks at it this way.

What would the Mustangs be asking of their players at this point of spring with no pandemic restrictions in place?

Since the boys weightlifting season was currently underway, many football players were already competing in that. When that sport was put on hold, most athletes have continued to work on strength and conditioning in their own way.

“First and foremost, with the players, you know, that is the physical conditioning aspect of it, which obviously is much different,” Ramsay said. “And, you know, a lot of the responsibility falls on them. We're fortunate that our guys are really good about wanting to do those things, so it's really not been an issue there.”

University Christian coach David Penland III said that football will return when it’s possible and safe to do so. His suggestion to players — take care of the studies.

“Right now, if you have bad grades, is a good time for every athlete in Jacksonville if you’ve got bad grades, this is a good time to get your grades up,” he said. “You can’t go to college with bad grades, so that’s all we’re pushing. Get your grades up.”

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