LYNN CAMP — As Lynn Camp High School begins to welcome student-athletes back on campus, coaches are having to learn how to navigate the new regulations and restrictions being put on their practices.
It’s been two weeks since coaches have been given the go-ahead to return to practice with their players and while Lynn Camp football head coach Allen Harris said his team has been back to practice for two weeks now, Lynn Camp girls basketball head coach Rodney Clarke has had to be quite creative in getting back into practice with his players.
As the Knox County Board of Education hasn’t yet given their teams the go-ahead to return to inside the gyms, the girls basketball team has been communicating through Zoom meetings over the past two weeks where Clarke has been giving his team tips on keeping in shape by encouraging them to run a mile or two a day and get in some ball handling.
“It’s been good because the only thing that is missing is being there physically in person with them, side by side,” Clarke said of the virtual meetings. “But being able to correct them on some things, give them some pointers and just make sure they try to eliminate the bad habits, I can still see that so it works good for me.”
Now, Clarke and his coaching staff are preparing to see their Lady Wildcats return to campus next week for their first in-person practices.
And while Clarke knows that next week’s practices will look much different from what his team has grown accustomed to, he’s more than ready to get back to practicing with his team.
“I’m anxious to get back to it because I’ll actually be there physically,” he said. “I’ll still have to keep my distance from them but at least I can still be there in their presence.”
The Lady Wildcats will be practicing outside as Clarke said they will be utilizing the school’s parking lot and sidewalks to work on some ball handling, as well as some agility and conditioning workouts with different machines.
Allen, who has been back in practice for two weeks with his team, said that while he and his coaching staff are excited to be back at it, the restrictions have posed somewhat of a challenge.
“It’s been a challenge with all the restrictions,” he said. “It’s hard to really do anything that creates a solid foundation for football but we’re at least getting to condition and be together, even though we’re in pods. We’re getting to be together and workout and I guess that’s the most important thing right now.”
The Wildcats have been working out in a makeshift outdoor weight room to accommodate the board of education’s rule of no indoor gyms, as well as working on conditioning and focusing on strength and speed.
“It’s really a mental thing right now and all that is playing a role in getting us back to where we need to be,” Allen said. “It’s difficult, it’s new to us and it’s difficult to keep kids six feet apart but we’re doing everything that we can to abide by the rules.
“I think any kind of normalization that we can give our kids right now is good for their mentality and ours — it’s good to be back at work. I missed my players like I would miss one of my kids, so it’s been good mentally for the coaches and we the kids. I’m just hoping we get back to regular life soon.”
Clarke hopes that this time off has helped to light a new fire within his players and he sees them come back to practice with a deeper passion than ever before.
“You don’t realize what you have until you miss it, regardless of how bad it is or good it is,” he said. “We’re in this situation where something is taken away and you don’t see when it’s going to come back, it kind of hits home. I’m big believer in trying to turn a negative into a positive, so the one negative thing that you can turn this into a positive about is that tomorrow isn’t promised, so if that doesn’t hit home now, I don’t know what else will or how else to get them to understand that.”
Both Allen and Clarke are hopeful that they’ll begin to see some more restrictions lifted and see practices begin to look more normal and are even more hopeful about their respective seasons.
“I’m expecting a big jump in this year,” Clarke said. “We were 4-26 last year and I don’t see why we can’t jump to 15 or 20 wins this year.”