The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

New season, new worries


Last updated 6/20/2020 at 4:11pm

Kevin Wilson

Portales High School softball coach Amanda Bonner works with a group of five PHS athletes Wednesday evening at the football practice field.

Back in the days of yore, as in 2019, all coaches had to worry about during preseason practices were Xs and Os, game strategy, players showing signs of melding into a cohesive unit.

In 2020, coaches still have to worry about all that, plus so much more. There is keeping players at least 6 feet apart, only getting to coach them in limited groups called pods, asking them with whom they've recently been in contact, if they feel feverish, keeping track of which gate they came in, which gate they went out.

Such is life for coaches in the strange days of COVID-19. But, there is a big positive. Practices, at least somewhat scaled-back versions of them, were able to resume last week in Phase 1 of the re-opening of high school sports. The practices are still far from normal - more like team get-togethers at this point - but they are on.

Even with masks, thermometers, only a certain number of peas to a pod, the return of sports in Curry and Roosevelt Counties was much welcomed.

"A sense of, maybe a sigh of relief," Clovis head football coach Cal Fullerton said. "Being hopeful and positive that there's going to be a football season."

All the restrictions, though, have taken a bit of getting used to.

"It's been different," Clovis boys soccer head coach Greg Trujillo said, laughing. "We've been running three sessions (daily), five players per coach, per pod; we've got 20-plus kids coming out. ... But it's been good to be back around the kids; they've been eager to get back into it. They're anxious to scrimmage right away, and we can't do that. We've got to do whatever (NMAA officials) tell us ... until they give us more leeway to do more things."

Clovis and Portales COVID-tested all of its coaches before they returned, and all tests came back negative.

"All that stuff was done by last Friday (June 12)," Portales High Athletic Director Mark Gallegos said. "We got everybody's results back and everything was good."

Getting some of the athletes back into playing shape, not all good.

"To be honest the fitness level is not very good," Gallegos said. "I guess when you're a kid you probably think you're in a little bit better shape than you are. ... If you're a kid you need that coach to push you."

"The kids have been playing a lot of video games; I'm sure, eating a lot of carbs," Trujillo said. "So it's going to be a process getting them back to where we need them to be."

Clovis' football team practiced Tuesday and Thursday, with 88 players Tuesday, 99 Thursday - 50 for one Thursday session, 49 for the other.

"So really good numbers right now," Fullerton said, "especially with everything that's going on."

Fullerton said the Wildcats' pods are five players to a group with five pods each on the Leon Williams Stadium field and the back practice field, and they rotate from field to field. They weren't using a ball yet last week, instead focusing on drills and conditioning. That's been pretty much the deal with all the teams that returned.

Texico was not among them because administration had yet to secure the necessary testing equipment.

"We hope to start soon," said Kristen Scanlan, head coach of the Lady Wolverines six-time defending state champion volleyball team. "Possibly when our numbers increase to 9-1; nine athletes at a time and one coach."


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