MARION (WSIL) -- On June 5, the IHSA updated their return to play guidelines. Marion High School, like many schools from our area, wanted to get written approval from a local level before letting student athletes begin workouts. On June 15, the Wildcats football team got the green light.
"I think we are saying I don't know more than anytime in my coaching career," Marion Head Football Coach Kerry Martin said.
"There's a lot of unanswered questions Jason, and we don't have all the answers and never before in my coaching career, in my life have we had to say "one day at a time" more than we say right now because things change dramatically. You watch the news, things change not only day to day but week to week in our culture now so it's going to be important for everyone to be smart, be cautious and take their time, take it "one day at a time," it's an old cliche but never more true than right now."
And there's no playbook for what to do during a pandemic.
"There's nobody to call to say how did you handle the pandemic when you coached several years ago. It's a learning process. I know we will have things happen today that maybe we didn't expect or plan for but that is part of the process. We will air on the side of caution when we get a situation that comes up that we didn't plan for and the main thing is make sure the kids are safe. We don't want to have anything happen that causes a setback where we have a longer delay so we have a responsibility to our parents and our kids to make sure we do everything we can to make everybody safe to stop the spread of this disease and make sure we are smart about what we are doing today."
What is that first phase like? What can you and are you going to do today?
"Today is about getting the kids back in the fold, being around them, seeing their faces again and encouraging them this is the first step in getting back to the season. We are going to do some light conditioning today to get their bodies re-acclimated again. We've got to get acclimated again to the heat, I'm sure a lot of our kids haven't been out in the sun like they are going to be today so we are going to take it slow. We will start off light today, and go light throughout this week and build each day and gauge where they are at and make adjustments to the schedule accordingly."
The interaction between coaches and athletes was missing, and puts things in a new perspective.
"For me, the great thing I've learned is to see your kids and communicate with them and see your coaches and not just see them in a zoom call, but talk to them face to face or in a group and I, we've missed that. I think there's a connection and a chemistry that goes of being a part of a team and we've lost an element of it now for three months. This is the longest we've been separated from our players ever so it's different but there is a lot of excitement to get back and see them again and there is a desire inside all of us to jump in and do a million things today and we've got to pull back and say we have to tae our time and they are not ready for that yet and we probably aren't either so as I said we are going to take it slow, but there is a missing element of not being around them everyday and I think that is something I will appreciate more now than I ever did before."