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Lizi Arbogast / The Outlook Benjamin Russell's baseball players along with all other high school athletes will have to get creative as they try to maintain playing condition without team practices.

It’s not just sports games and events that’ve been put on hold by the AHSAA due to the coronavirus outbreak; it’s also practices that’ve been disallowed.

But that doesn’t stop individuals from staying in shape and working on themselves. In fact, some local are athletes are looking at this as a time to focus solely on their own weaknesses in an effort to be better prepared for the resurgence of high school sports.

“We haven’t had a lot of practice time during the season so we have to take advantage of practice while we can,” BRHS baseball player Neal Fenn said. “We’re working individually and working on what we need to get done and what each person needs to work on. Instead of just doing team stuff, we can work on our individual stuff.”

But for area coaches, it’s not just about keeping players motivated physically; it’s also been a challenge to find ways to keep student-athletes emotionally motivated during such a tough time. Because there is so much uncertainty about if the AHSAA will cancel spring sports altogether, which seems likely to many due to sheer dates of when playoffs are scheduled, it’s tough for a coach to continue to ask players to be working on their sports in the event they don’t get a chance to play again.

That being said, coaches aren’t giving up.

“I would say we do have a good group and most all of our varsity kids play outside of school ball so that’s extra motivation,” BRHS softball coach Jessica Johnson said. “I guess it’s that not knowing (that’s the toughest.) I’m a planner and I like to have things in order. I like to fix things and you gotta just sit back and wait and watch. Definitely we want to keep everybody as healthy as we can and do our part to not make things worse.”

For a lot of teams, though, there remains quite a bit of hope the season will resume at some point and they plan to be ready.

“I think (the guys) are happy about how they’ve been playing and it would take a lot to throw them off track,” Central Coosa baseball coach Dave Stover said.

Fenn said, “We’re going to keep going until they tell us to stop. We have a goal in mind and we’re not going to give up on that goal. When we come back and play, which we’re looking forward to, we’re going to be prepared for it.”

Another issue coaches are stressing quite a bit is the potential for injury. With such a long hiatus — schools and athletic activities are not set to resume until at least April 6 — it’s possible if student-athletes don’t put in work on their own, they won’t be physically where they need to be to avoid potential injuries.

“In three weeks, if they let us go back, we’re going to be pushing to get back in shape,” Reeltown track and field coach Alana Garrard said. “I think it’s just getting out of conditioning and running the risk of injuries because the season is cut short (is worrisome). I always tell my kids during weekends and breaks, ‘Go outside; run to the mailbox and back. Don’t just lay down and watch TV. Get up and move because running you can do by yourself.’”

Coaches are encouraging athletes to find ways to be creative when doing at-home workouts. Southern Prep football coach Roland Bell posted on Facebook a list of potential individual workouts while indoors, including things like “bench press your bed.” Horseshoe Bend football coach and athletic director Jeremy Phillips said he’s been impressed with his athletes who have reached out to him asking for a daily workout plan.

“What I told our boys and we’ve echoed it through all our coaches is (the athletes) know the workouts we do,” Phillips said. “It’s what we do every week and it’s things they can do at home. They might not have a bench press but they can do pushups. Kids can do conditioning and work out to an extent at home.

“All our coaches are encouraging them to keep going; if you don’t, you end up losing everything you’ve gained so far.”

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.