The Georgia High School Association released updated guidelines regarding the return to high school sports while dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
The new requirements, released late Wednesday, focus on increasing group size from the previous 25 players and coaches to 50. It also allows teams to use sports equipment, such as footballs, blocking dummies, bats, volleyballs etc., for the first time as long as the equipment is sanitized thoroughly between each session. The new guidelines will go into effect on Monday.
These updated rules will create more flexibility for teams and allow for more to be accomplished through the rest of the summer. Many schools already have strong plans in place, for some, they will make changes for next week.
“Our athletic director (Josh Mathews) has had all the teams doing the same thing and it has been very organized,” Pope softball coach Chris Turco said. “We have a meeting tomorrow on how things will be moving forward.”
Each school created their own programs based on the GHSA guidelines, but some will wait to institute the new changes until after the upcoming dead week over the Fourth of July holiday.
Campbell football coach Howie DeCristofaro is happy with how things are going and will be one of the coaches holding off on making the changes. He said he assumes the GHSA will make changes again and his people will review the guidelines before they return from the week off.
“We’re just gonna keep it like we’re doing it now, rather than take a chance on having all the kids together,” DeCristofaro said. “We’ll change what we’re doing when we get back.”
DeCristofaro puts his team’s safety above anything else. Through the summer so far his team has been able to accomplish a lot while still following the rules. They do daily walkthroughs for defense and offense using trash cans as the opposing team. He sees the change as an opportunity for his players to take a closer look at the playbook and how it works.
“It’s good for us because we’ve been able to slow things down and go over all the basics,” DeCristofaro said.
Some teams have yet to hold summer conditioning because of the pandemic. This approach includes at home workouts and strict application of guidelines.
Kennesaw Mountain volleyball coach Michael Loyd plans to have his team in the gym after the dead week with very strict guidelines emphasizing safety.
“We will look at the guidelines when we return and implement strict rules such as sanitizing equipment,” Loyd said. “Whatever guidelines Cobb County puts in front of us we will follow.”
Despite different approaches to the coronavirus restrictions, teams all around Cobb County have adapted. Coaches said they will continue to follow the guidelines as updates are released.