Pandemic forces area football programs to get creative with spring workouts

This week was supposed to signal the start of the limited contact period for football programs – effectively Indiana’s “spring football” season at the prep level.

Instead, coaches and players are having to get creative with COVID-19 quarantine and social distancing in place.

Teams throughout northeast Indiana and the entire state are making do with what they can during this time. Instead of team workouts on site, coaches are doing their best to connect with their players and prepare so that when things return to some semblance of normalcy, programs are ready to hit the ground running.

“We are doing the best we can,” said Concordia Lutheran coach Tim Mannigel. “We have our guys meeting for Zoom workouts each day for 40 minutes from home. We are preparing as though we will begin summer activities in June.”

Mannigel and the Cadets are not the only program utilizing online group meeting platforms to connect.

South Adams is having weekly “chalk talks” on Google Meet in which Coach Grant Moser goes over schemes and plays. While Mannigel is hoping his team can get together in June for practice, Moser is approaching it as if the Starfires will not get to congregate together until later in the summer. He is also providing home workouts for his players to due while in quarantine.

Tim Mannigel (1)
Concordia Lutheran coach Tim Mannigel.

Other area programs are following suit. New Heritage coach Casey Kolkman is gathering e-mail addresses of his players so he can launch virtual team workouts. This time is of even more importance for first-year coaches that can use the spring to install new schemes, teach new vernacular and get to know his players.

Eastside quarterback Laban Davis has had plenty to do. Between eLearning and football training, he has learned to balance schoolwork with home workouts sent by Coach Todd Mason as well as assignments that include watching film on Hudl.

“I’ve also been throwing at home just to keep my arm loose and warm,” said Davis.

Northrop coach Jason Doerffler stressed the most important thing right now is communication, not just regarding football workouts but also overall awareness of the situation.

“We have sent (our players) some suggested workout ideas and kind of challenged them to get creative and find ways to get their work in,” Doerffler said. “But the biggest thing right now is to just make sure our guys are safe and taking care of themselves and their families.

“They obviously have a lot of questions but no one really has answers at this point.”

Perhaps communication is the most important aspect of training in today’s current landscape, as well as taking care of business in the virtual classroom with regular schoolwork. While refining the body and mind to prepare for the fall is crucial, protecting ourselves and each other is paramount.

“Our approach is going to be to plan for the summer and fall as we always would until we are told differently,” Doerffler said. “If and when we have to adjust things, we will.”



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