Return to campus: high school athletics begin workouts with COVID-19 precautions

High School Sports

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – High school student-athletes across the Borderland returned to campus on Monday to begin summer workout programs. Every school district in the greater El Paso area, with the exception of Ysleta Independent School District (YISD will begin workouts no earlier than June 22), allowed their schools to begin outdoor workouts.

All student-athletes are screened before entering campus and follow strict guidelines outlined by the University Interscholastic League (UIL), as well as some guidelines of their own.

“I’m relieved we got them all here, got them all checked in, we got the paperwork done, and their temperature checks done,” said Canutillo head football coach Scott Brooks. “You almost feel like it’s a pre-med class getting them here.”

The UIL approved school districts to begin workouts June 8. All of El Paso made the cautious decision to wait at least another week to put a plan they felt comfortable with in place.

“Our biggest concern is to teach them how to be safe,” said Socorro Independent School District athletic director JJ Calderon. “Things are going to look a little bit different coming back to practices as far as wellness protocols go.”

“We want to make sure everyone is protected,” said Franklin head football coach Daren Walker. “When kids are out of the drills, we want their facemasks on. The student-athletes are bringing their own water bottles, hand sanitizer is available out here, and we are just trying to keep our kids safe.”

Any hesitation the players had was met with excitement when they arrived on campus. For most of the student-athletes, Monday marked the first day they met in-person as a team in over three months.

“It was great because I missed everyone,” said Franklin senior defensive end Julian De Lucio. “Getting to see all the coaches was great, too, and it was helpful they could actually point out what we are doing wrong.”

The student-athletes know what is expected of them. With setbacks at Socorro and Cathedral last week, no stone is left unturned when it comes to health and safety.

“There’s a lot of social distancing. We are splitting up like 15 feet apart,” said Franklin offensive lineman Steven Alva. “We can’t really say hi to anyone and when we’re working out, we have to keep our mask on.”

“It was good. They are taking all of the safety percautions needed and we are still getting a good workout in for a possible season, if that happens,” said Canutillo senior offensive lineman Joshua Hernandez.

Nobody is really sure what is next with the season scheduled to kickoff in late August. The goal is to increase group size and move workouts to weight rooms, but a lot has to happen between now and then.

“The biggest thing is the unknown,” said Walker. “What is coming? We just don’t know.”

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