How the postponement of spring sports has affected spring sport athletes due to the coronavirus has been a major focus, and rightfully so.
As of Wednesday evening, the AHSAA season has been put on hold until at least April 6, and it was hard to say if those spring sports would resume at all. And if they did, there would be a whole lot of questions about how the postseason would proceed.
Understandably so, a lot of student-athletes and coaches had hurt emotions over the postponement — even if they knew it was the best decision.
But spring sports and those athletes aren’t the only ones affected. In Alabama, football reigns supreme and although high school teams haven’t taken the field for spring practice yet, they are in the heart of their offseason workout plans.
On Wednesday’s episode of Inside the Lines Podcast, sports writer Caleb Turrentine and I talk about how these teams are coping and what the athletes are doing to stay in shape during the hiatus. We also sat down with Reeltown coach Matt Johnson, whose favorite time of the season arguably is the offseason.
Although the Rebels had a regularly scheduled break last week due to Tallapoosa County Schools being on spring break, they had to make adjustments beginning this week and Johnson said that came in the form of two plans.
“One play is really what we’ve been doing all along,” Johnson said. “That’s our Reeltown workout plan if you have access to those resources — equipment, weights, a bench.”
But the second plan is where things get more interesting. Johnson said there are workouts using everything from canned goods and bottles of water to a broomstick and a porch.
“A lot of stuff with chairs, stuff we know they have around the house, we’ve incorporated that into that workout plan to target areas that are going to be different for them,” Johnson said. “A lot of the guys were thinking, ‘That doesn’t look tough at all,’ but once they start doing it, they think, ‘Good Lord, that’s tougher than the other one.’”
Another interesting point Johnson discussed on Inside the Lines Podcast is one of his already graduated seniors returning home and reuniting with his team. Cameron Faison had already reported to Dodge City (Kansas) Community College but as its spring football practice has been cancelled as well as all classes moved online, Faison has returned home to Reeltown for the time being.
But just like high school athletes who need to get ready for their next season — with the hope it can be played at some point — Faison wants to keep up on his workouts as well and is helping the Rebels in the process.
“He’s talking mess to the guys and really just being Cam,” Johnson said. “He’s pushing them and he’s working with them. He’s gotta stay in shape and be ready to perform whenever this thing is over too.”
Reeltown, like many other schools, are scheduled to begin its spring practice in the last week of April. With so many unknowns surrounding if school will be in session by that time, Johnson is just taking things day by day. He said he’s plenty willing to follow the lead of the AHSAA, which is in good hands following the lead of the Alabama Department of Education.
Until more is known, the Rebels are trying to live by their motto.
“What we say all the time is we gotta improvise, adapt and overcome,” Johnson said. “This is the perfect opportunity and I told the guys last night we preach all the time, ‘You never know when the last time is you’ll be able to come out here. … You gotta embrace each moment like it is the last moment.’ Unfortunately that has come full circle and we’re having to live through it.”
Make sure to listen to this week’s episode of Inside the Lines Podcast, which is available on all the Tallapoosa Publishers Inc. websites, Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to hear the full interview with Johnson as well as Caleb and I’s thoughts on the subject.