Just 28 days remain until area high school football coaches are scheduled to hand out uniforms and begin practicing for the 2020 season.
Nobody, of course, is sure if any of that will happen.
The WIAA recently sent out sport-specific guidelines as it relates to getting back in action but has essentially left the restart up to local municipalities.
The nine Rock County schools have decided to work as one body in regards to their school plans, but no information has been released when it comes to school sports.
Brodhead football coach and principal Jim Matthys said his team responded enthusiastically to its first opportunity to gather in small groups.
“We are just doing weight room stuff and conditioning,” Matthys said. “We aren’t going to have camp or anything this month. Our kids haven’t been able to do anything since March, at least in the school, so we’re going to start them out small. I’ve been really pleased with our numbers. We are pushing 60 kids that are participating in these workouts, including 21 or 22 freshmen, when last year we only had 43 kids program-wide.”
Matthys said early returns have been positive.
“I’m pleasantly surprised with how the kids have looked,” Matthys said. “A bunch of kids have found ways to do some things. Some have weight equipment at home, and the fitness center here in town opened up in June, so I think some kids were there working out. There have been a few that you can tell haven’t done anything, but for the most part I’m happy with what I’ve seen.”
While this certainly has not been a typical summer, Matthys is hoping his program can make up for lost time.
“It’s going to be interesting because everybody has the same issues,” Matthys said. “We typically start summer with a bang and have a really good June. Then with vacations and things like that, it starts to get tough in July.
“But with the way the first couple of days went, and how excited kids are to be back, maybe it’ll be gangbusters in July. I know that kids are sick of sitting around.”
There has been recent talk of football potentially switching to a spring sport, while sports like track and field could perhaps move back to the fall. Matthys does not believe that’s a real possibility.
“I don’t think that’s going to happen at this point,” Matthys said. “I’m on the board of the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association, and I haven’t heard anything about that recently. It initially came up back in May, and (WIAA Deputy Director) Wade Labecki shot it down right away. Being a football coach, of course I’d be fine with it. But I really don’t think it’s fair to our spring athletes. They’ve already had one season shut down, and if things go haywire here, that would be another one they’d lose.”
Matthys is optimistic that fall sports will be given a chance to succeed.
“I think fall sports are realistic and doable,” Matthys said. “But I also think you’re going to be on pins and needles every week. Teams are going to probably change pretty drastically from one week to the next, depending on if somebody tests positive or is even exposed to someone who has. It’s definitely going to be interesting to see.”