GAINESVILLE — About this time every year football coaches and players are ramping up their excitement and workouts as they prepare for spring football.
But with the coronavirus uncertainty and high school systems being shut down currently, the entire spring season also could be on the verge of being completely wiped out. In the 22-team area covered by AccessWDUN, all but four are scheduled to conduct spring practices, most starting in the last week of April, so there seems to be time before any ultimate decisions need to be made.
Gainesville football coach Heath Webb said it has created more than a few questions.
“Things are very uncertain and things are happening fast,” he said. “But if we do return how does that work? Will we be able to pick up where we left off? If you have a spring game with another school will they be able to participate? There are just a lot of unknowns right now.”
But despite all the unanswered questions, that hasn’t stopped Webb, and surely most every program in the area, from trying to move forward. Much like the school systems have gone digital with online academic work, programs like Gainesville have sent athletes home with specific workout goals and schedules.
He said he also has been encouraged by the optimism despite the uncertainty.
“So far things are working out from that standpoint,” Webb said. “In fact, what I’m getting from players is ‘send me more workouts that I can do on my own time.’ The enthusiasm for the upcoming season has not dropped off, in my opinion.”
A key concern, however, if school systems resume classes and sports, would be who would be ready to resume on the field.
“That is a concern. To me the biggest things will be are the kids still in shape after two or three weeks or a month-long break,” Webb said. “Right now our understanding from monitoring from afar is that most of them are staying on track.”
But if spring is wiped out, a valuable assessment period for the upcoming 2020 season will also be lost for football coaches.
“The spring is a big evaluating period and if we lose the entire spring we’ll have to push that period back to June or so, assuming everything is back to normal by then,” Webb said. “Every program will have to change their approach I’m sure. We’re looking at that possibility and looking at altering workout programs and things like that.
“This is new for all of us so there’s no real blueprint to follow on having done this before. It’s very, very fluid right now.”