CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – High school football practice during a pandemic is definitely different. That being said, it’s still high school football and with it comes the same energy, excitement, and passion.
Just add masks, social distancing, rigorous sanitizing and daily symptom checks.
The passion has never changed for the Clearwater High School Tornadoes where coaches say the kids can’t wait to play football.
“You know, every step forward definitely helps get the kids more excited about the upcoming season,” said head football Coach Don Mesick.
For now, however, it’s all about practice with social distancing in mind, as the athletes focus on conditioning.
Phase 3 for sports teams officially began in Pinellas County schools.
Students must mask up at all time and a limited number of athletes are allowed to work out as the weight room and gymnasiums open for the first time to the students.
Weight rooms are limited to 15 individuals, and workout sessions are restricted to 45 minutes while gymnasiums are allowed up to 20 individuals with social distancing required. Locker rooms will remain closed.
High school senior, Marquavion Jeter, was all smiles as he walked into the weight room for football practice.
“The environment is exciting, it’s all love here. It’s fun to be here, everybody wants to be here,” Jeter told 8 On Your Side.
Teams can start limited team activities, and more than one sport can practice on campus at one time provided they are in separate parts of the campus.
In addition, there’s a lengthy symptom check for all kids entering practice. So far, only one student on the team has tested positive for COVID-19 this summer.
Coaches tell 8 On Your Side their football players have been so excited to get back to the game, they’ve had perfect attendance for the whole team this summer.
“We’re excited to move into phase three today, have our offense actually see our defense, we’ve been completely separated until now,” said Coach Mesick. “There’s no doubt about it whether you’re talking high school, college or pro sports, it’s definitely been different.”
For students like Jeter, there’s no doubt, the kids are excited to get back in the game after the longest spring ever.
“I’ve got to say, sad. Like I missed the game, and I wanted to get back into it.” Jeter added, “I’m going to use this year to be my year! This is going to be my break-out year”
While the current return to school date for Pinellas County is August 24, an official return to play date for games has not yet been established.
Coaches say they’ll keep their players in training and continue conditioning as they anticipate the upcoming season.
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