Tips from a Coach: Blacksburg Coach talks Pandemic, Practice

Samuel Sparks of Blacksburg talks about coaching his first season at Blacksburg and plans for the season ahead.

Photo provided

What kind of conditioning are you doing with your track and field team at this point? 
At this moment we are not doing any conditioning. With the restriction of no after school workouts, it puts us at a standstill. The athletes that have the weight training classes or are playing basketball are working out, but the others who only do track are not doing anything yet.

What do you see it to be like in February and March? 
I think in February and March we will have a big number or athletes come out, but once the reality starts to settle in that they must wear a mask at practices, meets may get canceled, the season itself may be shortened more than it already is. Practices itself will be difficult. It will be a lot of individual training and relay practice here or there. Everyone will still train like they did there just will not be a person in each lane as they run.

What challenges have you encountered? 
I am the new head coach for this season, some of the athletes may know me from when I was the assistant in the past, but I am still a new face to some of them. I am also a teacher at another school in the district that I coach, so I am not over at my school to let the kids know that track will still happen, just not until February. 
I have had parents get in touch with me already asking about meets and everything involving season, and when I let them know that we have to wait until we are told what to do by the SCHSL, they seem to back off. 

What are the rules your school and district requires? 
My district is following all state rules. We can have meets at home, but we are only allowed to invite two teams. We have space for 144 parents to sit in the stands, and they have to be six feet apart. Mask are required by all at all times. We are not adding anything that the state has not already stated. 

Anything else that may help other teams navigating these difficult times? 
The kids want to be out there, so make sure you encourage them. Even if it feels like everyone is against you, everyone wants springs sports to happen. Be ready to change at any time, the kids want to compete as bad as you want to coach them. It will be a rough year, but our focus is the kids, and for some of them, this is all that will make everything worth it.