Talawanda athletes return to practice Monday

By Justin Klatsky

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recently announced the return of high school athletics practices, which were permitted to resume May 26.

For Talawanda, conditioning and non-contact training for high school athletes will begin this Monday, June 1. How that training progresses will be strictly controlled by the state government in conjunction with the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA).  

At Talawanda High School, Football Coach Larry Cox and Head Athletic Trainer Greg Daniels have the responsibility of leading the conditioning and training workouts for all sports at the school beginning June 1. Cox will lead the workouts while Daniels conducts symptom evaluations and ensures that equipment is properly sanitized.

Cox has reformatted practices to be in accordance with OHSAA guidelines and recommendations. He will begin each workout session at the top of every hour. Thirty athletes will be allowed for every session. Each group of 30 will be divided into three groups of 10, then rotated among opposite sides of the outdoor football field and inside the weight room.

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced in a press conference May 21 that while the state is still evaluating the potential for schools reopening this fall, allowing proper non-contact training for athletes is essential for skill development and to reduce injury risk when full athletic activity resumes.

The state has set various restrictions in place depending on the sport and what activities that sport entails. For example, contact and non-contact sports must both adhere to the social distancing standard of staying six feet apart from one other, refraining from high-fives or handshake lines, refraining from sharing drinks or water coolers. Coaches must also conduct a visual symptom evaluation of all players before and after training.

In addition to the restrictions imposed by the state, coaches should also monitor other potential contact among players such as using the same football, baseball or weight training equipment. 

Decisions regarding reopening of training facilities are made by local districts, however the standards must align with the protocols included in the Responsible Restart Ohio Guidance for Gyms. This means proper sanitizing of equipment before and after exercise and an ample time frame for participants to enter and exit facilities.

Husted made it clear that games, tournaments and scrimmages are still not permitted and there is no timetable for their return.

“Biggest thing is that you are following protocols and keeping kids safe,” Cox said of his goals and efforts for this coming Monday. 

Cox said he will start off slowly, building physical training and getting athletes’ bodies in shape for their upcoming sports. Cox, Daniels and Athletic Director Wes Cole will be present come June 1 and throughout the summer to ensure that the workouts pose little to no health risk to the athletes.

Zach Sens, Talawanda’s hockey coach, said it is necessary to get athletes in shape for their own safety, as the absence of adequate training could lead to more injuries among players. Sens said that the restrictions will force a focus on more general body strength and weight training instead of sport specific exercises.

Along with the return of conditioning and training, bowling alleys and miniature golf courses will be open for public use under the eased state restrictions and guidelines. Patrons of these establishments are advised to keep six-foot distances and not gather in groups.

With conditioning and training restarting this Monday, questions remain as to what the upcoming sports season will look like. Limited spectators and less travel could be necessary restrictions, according to officials.