MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Several private high school teams began training on-campus Monday under strict guidelines. The workouts were limited to conditioning; the players only practiced social distancing.
"Our student-athletes are an important part of the community," Briarcrest Christian School president Mark Merrill said. "To start preparations for what we hope is a normal return to athletics in the fall is a big deal. We're very excited."
Public schools have not been cleared to resume training yet.
All sessions begin with temperature checks and are outdoors-only. Briarcrest had football, girls' soccer and volleyball in for conditioning workouts. The football team was spread across four fields.
Christian Brothers High School also welcomed back football, as well as basketball and wrestling. Coaches communicated with players through a headset hooked up to the press box PA system. Players left wearing masks in a socially distant, single-file line.
"You know it is going to look different for awhile, I know that," CBHS head football coach Thomas McDaniel said. "We'll talk to our players about that. They've got to be patient. It's going to to take time. We're not going to be back to any real normalcy for quite some time."
But there is some normalcy in something as routine as training. It is one of the many small parts of everyday life that is easy to take for granted. It is a boost for the players and staff to have it back in any capacity.
"It is so welcome," Briarcrest head football coach Brian Stewart said. "The gates are open. Briarcrest is open and we are tickled to death to be out here with these kids."
"We've already missed a ton of practices and stuff already," Saints senior defensive back Jerrod Gentry said. "I'm excited to get back to work with my brothers.
"It's fun to see their reactions, it is good to see them miss their buddies," McDaniel said. "Obviously I know that they miss being at our school. So it means a lot to me and I know it means a lot to our kids just to be back on Walnut Grove."
Getting back under the Friday Night Lights could be a challenge. For now, they will settle for being back under the sun together.