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High School athletes in training for a curtailed season

Coral Springs, Florida – Deerfield Beach High School junior Aaron Hicks, a 6-foot, 1-inch, 281-pound offensive lineman for the Bucks, is looking to make the best of the upcoming football season despite the absence of the Florida High School Athletic Association [FHSAA] state championship series.
“We’ve just got to put in as much work as we can to make it the best season we can, despite all of the circumstances,” said Hicks, 16, who lives in Coral Springs.
Due to COVID-19, the Bucks’ spring game and a summer college tours were canceled. Now comes a later starting date [tentatively Oct. 12]  and a shortened season, which will end with a tri-county event rather than a state championship.
“It has been crazy,” Hicks said. “For me being a junior, and now an eligible recruit, I was planning on learning about all of the colleges who were recruiting me . . . stuff happens and I can’t really get mad at it. I just have to adjust to it.”
For Hicks, it means putting more effort into what’s left.
“I am definitely going to use it as fuel to play harder . . . put up some good film for the colleges.”
Bucks head football coach Javon Glenn said the team had limited contact and it’s a boost for everyone to be grinding again.
“The uncertainty and not knowing and not being around the kids to make sure they are doing the right things and they are safe and healthy, to have an ear to talk into or a shoulder to lean on, has been the biggest part,” he said.
Prior to the shutdown, within a month’s time, the Bucks suffered the tragic loss of Bryce Gowdy, who took his own life after he had signed a scholarship with Georgia Tech University, and then Terrance Jackson, who was shot when a fight erupted after his grandfather’s funeral.
“Football is football and that will take care of itself whenever that needs to be,” Glenn added. “With all they have been through, it is more important that these kids are healthy mentally.”
Following the Broward County School District guidelines for sports, Phase 2 began Sept. 29 with voluntary strengthening and conditioning sessions held outdoors, while opening weight rooms and gymnasiums with expanded protocols. It does not include team practices or the use of specific sports equipment of any kind. Athletes had to train in pods [small groups].
Broward County opted out of the FHSAA Fall State Series. If current COVID-19 conditions permit, the goal is to have fall sports competitions among District high schools. Administrators are also exploring the possibility of extending fall sports competitions to neighboring counties. If Phase 3 begins on Oct. 12 it will include regular practices.
Blanche Ely football coach C.J. Wimberly was also happy to get going on Tuesday.
“When you really look at the grand scheme of things, it is unfortunate that we had to put football on pause,” Wimberly said. “In all reality, to me it is important that we maintain the safety and security for all of our kids.”
But, he added, it really wasn’t a break.
“We were able to use this as an opportunity to be creative and try and bring them stability. We never let up on the guys and we stayed on them with their grades and kept everything upbeat and positive.”
The other fall sports, including cheerleading, bowling, swimming and diving, cross country and girls volleyball also began voluntary workouts.
“This year has definitely been different,” said Deerfield Beach High School swim coach Ashley Wilson. A lack of information has made it tough for her swimmers to get motivated.
“At this point we would be coming down towards the end of our season. We haven’t even hit the water [yet]. I have never seen so many kids that out of shape,” she said. “It has definitely impacted morale and they are definitely starting to get restless.”
Twaila Yamashita knows full well what the effects of COVID-19 have been both on and off the court. In addition to her duties as the Northeast High School girls and boys volleyball coach, she is also a club volleyball coach for SoFLO and a long term care nurse for PharMerica.
Practice has yet to begin at the school.
“We could not be on campus, or meet on the beach to play,” Yamashita said. “We are basically limited to 75 minutes and what am I going to accomplish in 75 minutes? We have no net, no ball and a track. That does nothing for me and my sport.”
She was able to hold ZOOM meetings with her athletes, but that wasn’t the same.
“We come from an area where the parents aren’t wealthy and some don’t have internet,” Yamashita added. “I also can’t expect the parents to get off in the middle of the day and bring their kids to school for practice, tryouts, or an outdoor workout and come back and pick them up in 75 minutes. We have some parents who are willing to bring their kids, but not until school goes back.”

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