Training in the era of COVID-19

Friday night’s kickoff may represent more than the beginning of the high school football season – a season many thought would never take place.

As many states consider whether to have a football season, with Kansas recently announcing the cancellation of fall sports, officials with the Cameron R-1 School District went the extra mile to ensure the safety of its athletes this season by implementing numerous changings preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“I was worried we weren’t going to have a season. The fact they’re letting it happen is tremendous and it’s awesome people are taking steps to keep us safe,” said Kacy Kellerstrass, senior safety. “The masks may suck, but they’re keeping our season going. If you’re the person in a drill, then you have to have your mouthpiece in and nothing on. If we’re conditioning and we’re running you don’t have to have it on. As soon as you walk or you’re in line for a drill you have to have it on. It’s going to take some getting used to.” 

Throughout the summer, athletic programs across the United States developed plans to prepare for the upcoming season only to have them foiled by an outbreak of COVID-19 among their athletes. Cameron High School athletic programs were no different. In June, CHS coaches and trainers slowly reacclimated athletes with sessions of body-weight exercises at Dave Goodwin Field, intent to phase in weightlifting as the fall season drew near. Instead, after two athletes tested positive for COVID-19 following a wrestling camp, at the advice of the Clinton County Health Department school officials suspended all team workouts, camps and practices until the official Missouri State Activities Association start date of August 10. 

“It wasn’t just wrestling. We had multiple sports start seeing and hearing about positive cases,” Cameron Supt. Matt Robinson said. “Our main goal is to try and be as healthy as possible by the time August 10th comes around and we can start practicing for fall sports. While the health department asked us to quarantine for a little bit, we felt like we should take a little bit longer to do that and make sure everyone is as healthy as they can be August 10th so we can move forward with the season”

Following a blowout loss to Savannah in the second round of the playoffs, coaches and players made strength and conditioning a top priority for 2020. After the suspension of team weightlifting, many players took it upon themselves to put on the muscle needed for a successful season and utilized area gyms such as the Cameron YMCA.

“When we didn’t have practice, we got together and put some work in … We’re all working no matter what,” senior receiver Ian Riley said. “We’re always going to be pushing to be the best. I feel pretty confident. It’s a completely different season than we’ve ever had, but our team has been putting the work in so I feel ready.” 

With only a few weeks of preparation before the home opener, putting in the maximum effort in a limited amount of time will be crucial for the Dragons. With 29 upperclassmen listed on the roster, Coach Jeff Wallace said experience will play a factor this season.

“We will get four or five plays in a minute. That allows you to get thousands of reps by the end of the year,” Wallace said. “A lot of other teams that don’t practice with that tempo don’t get that. That makes us a heck of a lot better than other football teams come playoff time.”

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