CLEVELAND — It was already hot and muggy at 8 a.m. as the first wave of White County football players descended upon the practice field at White County High School Monday morning.
But no one -- not coaches, players, trainers, distant onlookers -- seemed to care, especially when the most welcome sight of all was spotted.
In fact, several balls were pulled out of dust-gathered bags as Monday marked the first day that schools were allowed to use sport-specific equipment in the wake of COVID-19.
The Georgia High School Association lifted its ban on sports-related equipment last week and boosted group workouts from 25 to 50 athletes.
The governing body of high schools across the state has been working toward the implementation of sports-related equipment since the athletes returned to campus with limited workouts on June 8. Monday was an affirmation that the GHSA is hungry to get the fall season started on time.
If the GHSA follows the same pattern as the last three weeks, they could announce a full return to practice at the annual dead period which is next week.
The Warriors, along with Habersham Central and Gainesville, were part of several area schools and programs to break out their equipment. However, Hall County, the largest system in northeast Georgia, did not implement the latest recommendations by the GHSA.
"Obviously we are glad to be able to get on the field and start doing some more football related work," Habersham Central coach Benjie Harrison said. "It's good to see some guys running around catching some balls. For the quarterbacks, it's great to get some time with a football in their hands working fundamentals after being away so long."
It was the same in Cleveland.
"It was great to finally be on the field with my team," White County coach Tim Cokely said. "For us the lay-off made us more grateful for the time we have together playing our sport...football."
AccessWDUN toured the area Monday to shoot some long-awaited video of team's getting more and more back to old habits.
(Click play above to see the entire video.)
AccessWDUN's Bo Wilson contributed to this story.