It’s kind of a surreal scene now, watching something that was once so mundane like a high school football workout.

Prior to the outbreak of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), the thoughts behind these offseason workouts lie more toward the “what drill” and “how many” type.

Now, in addition to that, you’ll see coaches yell out reminders from behind a medical mask for players to stay distant. You’ll see players finish with a weight bar and automatically reach for a bucket of sanitizing wipes. You’ll notice the small group of players and not be able to tell whether it’s a fifth of the football team or the entire basketball squad. You’ll see weed-sprayer-like tanks filled with disinfectant as coaches and staff spritz wide swaths of a weight room. You’ll see the lines of players, waiting to have a thermometer quickly planted against their head and temperature shouted out to a note-taker.

All of these considerations are highly unusual for most of these coaches and players. All are probably necessary.

So, they do it, without a complaint.

Whatever it takes to get players in pads on a football field, or in cleats on a softball diamond this fall.

The school administrators, athletic directors, coaches, players and parents that have made this happen deserve commendation.

The Georgia High School Association began allowing member schools to hold voluntary offseason workouts for the first time on June 8. With rules about sanitation, distancing and group size in place, schools began making plans for workouts under those parameters.

It’s got to be hard, with so much lost time already, for coaches not to try to jump back in full-force and make up for that time with heavier workloads and longer workouts.

But I’ve witnessed a concerted effort to slowly ramp up to increased activity, giving consideration to the kids that may not have had access to as effective a home gym as others.

The activity is always with the safety regulations in mind, not testing the limits of the rules.

After two weeks, I’ve visited five schools and seen these workouts up close. It’s been nothing short of remarkable to see the programs in our area not only adjust so quickly to the vastly different landscape created by COVID-19, but to thrive in and despite it.

After a short couple of weeks, these highly irregular rules already appear to be as easy as second nature to the players and coaches at each school.

Those strict regulations handed down by the GHSA are slowly starting to lessen as the weeks go by and the safety plans appear to work. Starting Monday, groups of as many as 50 can work out at the same time, up from 25, and sport-specific equipment, such as footballs and basketballs, can be used.

It’s a small step, but another step back toward normal nonetheless.

As we make those steps, those planners at each school will jump back into duty, making sure this transition continues to happen as safely as possible.

Daniel Mayes is the sports editor of the Daily Citizen-News. Write to him at danielmayes@dailycitizen.news.

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