UIL reinstates strength, conditioning

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By Scott Akanewich

Liberty Hill High School athletes, whose sports lives have been in suspended animation since the UIL suspended all activities in mid-March due to the global pandemic, have been given the green light to resume working out using school facilities, as the UIL announced it has reinstated summer strength and conditioning programs to begin on June 8.

Although the programs have the go-ahead, there will be strict health guidelines in place for the resumption of workouts – some mandatory, while others are suggested, but not required.

Among the mandatory restrictions are stipulations requiring at least one staff member in attendance for every 20 athletes in order to ensure proper social-distancing procedures are met, no locker room or shower access for athletes and all working surfaces must be sanitized throughout and at the end of each day.

Included in the suggested guidelines are pre-screening athletes for COVID-19 before the start of workouts and at the beginning of each week, planning entry and exit strategies to reduce the number of people in high-traffic areas and limiting athletes to remaining within a single group for the entirety of each session.

According to Liberty Hill athletic director and head football coach Jeff Walker, ensuring athletes remain at proper distances at all times is the most demanding of what he and his staff are faced with in proper execution of the program – keeping one eye on health and the other on gaining the full benefits of the workouts.

“Social-distancing will be our biggest challenge – mainly during entering and exiting the stadium,” said Walker. “We will have a questionnaire for them to fill out prior to entering and we’ll take their temperature at that time, too. No one will be able to enter the stadium if they have any symptoms or answer ‘yes’ to any question on our questionnaire. We will spend lots of time during our first few days going over all the UIL guidelines with our athletes. We want to get bigger, faster and stronger, but safety will always be our first priority and more than ever now.”

In keeping with guidelines, only two small groups of athletes will be allowed in the weight room at a time, coaches will be required to wear masks with all stations being wiped down after every use and sport-specific work will have to be more drill-oriented due to social-distancing restrictions.

Walker said it will definitely be good to be back – with one very big asterisk attached.

“I’m very excited to see our kids again in person,” he said. “But, unfortunately, we won’t be able to shake their hands or hug them for the time being.”

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