Brazos High School was among the schools in the University Interscholastic League returning to limited, socially distanced strength and conditioning and sport-specific activities last Monday and the turnout far exceeded Cougar head football coach and athletic director Ryan Roecker’s visions.
“Blew expectations out of the water,” Roecker said at June 8’s evening session at Brazos High School. “We had 46 kids this morning and for the evening we're looking at another 33. To me, that's a pretty good number and it's a good basis.”
Student-athletes from seventh grade up to incoming seniors in high school punched their timecard the first day they were allowed to come back following the UIL’s cancellation of remaining activities on April 17. However, some of that time off allowed Roecker and the Cougar coaching staff to prepare the weight room and practice fields for the athletes’ arrival to keep things moving smoothly.
“A lot of preparation went into it; meeting with other athletic directors, meeting with our staff,” Roecker said of the first day’s activities. “Last week we made a video talking about what the process is going to be in hopes that (student-athletes) familiarized themselves with it. That way they weren't showing up blind.”
Every student-athlete was questioned for COVID-19 symptoms and had their temperature taken upon arrival. They are also to continue practicing social distancing and had to clean each piece of equipment after using it.
Roecker said Brazos benefitted from the smaller school size where they could split up their nearly 80 student-athletes over two workouts.
“We're not dealing with 150 kids. Having almost 100 kids a day is great, but we're not dealing with them at one time,” Roecker said. “When you look out there, we got 15 spots marked out and they just wait their turn. Then we move out to – we’re calling it our parade ground – where they get their marching orders for the day.”
The coach said the first day’s intensity was high as he thought the athletes were more than ready following a nearly three-month hiatus.
“I think they're hungry. I think they're excited to get back, even if it's just for social activity,” Roecker said. “I've been telling them and putting out there on social media that the workout part is awesome, but the really awesome part is seeing them face to face for the first time since March 6 in an extended circumstance. We'll get their bodies in shape, now it's just the fun part of actually being around them because that's what we got into this for. We, as coaches, get into it to change lives and help mold our players and you can't do that from a text message.”