- Wheat Middle School
"Keeping It Clean" is the Standard for Students Engaged in Summer Strength and Conditioning
“Keeping it clean” has been the theme—and standard—for Cleburne High School students as they reported in record numbers for the first week of summer strength, conditioning and sport-specific sessions. Peak attendance was recorded on Tuesday with 225 participants.
With the UIL seal of approval, and accompanying health and safety guidelines, Cleburne joined with high schools across the region in beginning work with student athletes on June 8.
Preceding their first stretches, warmups, lifts and drills, students received an overview and orientation of health and social distancing protocols to be used throughout the summer. From the indoor practice facility to the weights, workout equipment--even the footballs, basketballs and volleyballs used by students--it’s all about keeping it clean--and staying apart. Ten feet is the social distancing standard when students are actively exercising.
In addition to whistles and clipboards, coaches have been equipped with antibacterial sprays for equipment and surfaces to be applied after each student puts down their weights, kettle balls, jump ropes, etc.—before the next steps in. Students are also engaged in the process, assisting with wipe downs and staying apart from their teammates in keeping “COVID conscious.”
“I’m not worried about being here with all these other people,” sophomore Jadia Walters said. “But the cleaning matters because our germs will be on the weights after we use them. It’s good that they are being cleaned—if they weren’t, we would come in contact with someone else’s germs.”
Junior linebacker Chris Ortegon was grateful to be back with teammates, after missing spring football due to the closing of school as a COVID prevention measure. He, too, is committed to the cleaning and safety protocols in place.
“I was thrilled to be able to come back,” he said. “At home, you are limited to only a few things you can do. We want to be able to work out as a team and we need to do everything we can to stay here and not get shut down due to health concerns. We need to do our part to not make this spread, and to stay healthy. I am very grateful for the opportunity to get back to work.”
Coaches think the opportunity to get out and get back with teammates--coupled with a host of enthusiastic incoming freshmen ready to show what they can do—is reflected in higher student participation numbers than in previous years.
“Things have been going well,” Jackets Assistant Basketball Coach Ethan Anderson said. “The coaches have been doing a good job with the safety procedures while assisting kids with their workouts—easing them back into things. The kids have been missing sports and working out. The COVID closure had them at home for a couple of months and they are ready to get out and do some things to make themselves better athletes.”
“The kids have been doing their part in cleaning and doing what they are supposed to do,” he said. “They’ve been diligent with the distancing—they know the expectations and what they are supposed to do while they are here.”
Jackets Football Defensive Coordinator Jason Payne said the recent months have been a challenge for students, and their teachers and coaches. Like everyone else reporting to the first conditioning sessions of the summer, he was ready to be back.
“It’s been a good learning curve getting things ready for these students,” Payne said. “For me, it’s been great to be back—back with these kids. The workouts have been good. They have been trying to raise the bar, raise their game, and being smart in the process in staying safe while also being considerate of others. They’ve done a good job with both.”
Head Volleyball Coach Rachell Pope had a similar view in working with the girls’ side of strength and conditioning, including her volleyball players.
“They were eager to get back and now that they have that opportunity, I think they are more appreciative of just being here,” Pope said. “When you are used to something, and then it’s taken away, you are more grateful when you get it back. It’s nice to see them eager. They come with a smile, ready to work out in the sun and get pushed to reach farther. I’m proud of them.”
“I feel our kids do a good job of taking care of themselves and are doing all they can to keep everyone healthy,” Pope said. “I think coming back into things they are very cognizant of cleaning, distancing, being responsible, which will allow us to have a volleyball season—and hopefully all of our athletes to have their seasons. Our kids need this summer program and to be with their teammates and coaches. For some of our students, their involvement in sports is everything. This is their family.”
This first return to their campus—after 44 days away--is a welcome event for these students—but they are ready for more, according to Walker.
“I was happy to come back and finally getting some practice with my coaches and to see a lot of my friends,” the Lady Jackets basketball player said. “Now, I’m ready to get back to school. Not all my friends are in sports—and I’m ready to see them.”
Assistant Softball Coach Mallory Dunlap sanitizes the bar for the next lifter during day two of the summer strength and conditioning program for Cleburne High School students which began June 8. Cleaning and social distancing protocols are in place for students and staff alike, following UIL guidelines.