LINING UP – The Oak Glen Football team takes on the offensive during an AA postseason competition against Point Pleasant in November. -Joe Catullo

CYCLING – The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes – good and bad – to life, the world, and even high school sports.

When West Virginia Governor Jim Justice delayed winter sports until mid-March, there was a trickle down effect on spring sports and even on the fall schedule. While the fall sports schedule will be traditional, the summer training, exercise and conditioning schedule has been changed.

Traditionally, the West Virginia SSAC had allowed each county to have its own three-week window in June for coaches to work with their athletes. Due to the delayed end of spring sports, the SSAC allowed this period to run in July, meaning teams in the region began training on Monday and run for the next two full weeks before moving on to the last week of the month before official training on February 8

So far, the region’s football coaches have been satisfied with the idea.

“I like it very much and I hope the state gives us the opportunity to drive this forward.” Chris Daugherty, Wheeling Park head coach, said. “It’s nice to give the kids the last week of July before August camp because it gives them a whole week for body and mind to rest.”

“As long as the two-day training starts on August 2nd, it shouldn’t affect what we want to achieve.” Ted Arneault, Oak Glen head coach, said. “We are not trying to make ourselves unequal to other countries. We try to keep the practices comparable in order to prepare the children for these competitions. “

Madonna’s head coach Dan Rovira believes it is more likely to harm smaller schools than AAA or even AA.

“I’m not in love. It makes it hard. The children really didn’t have a break “, he said. “I only have 24 on the team at the moment. Many of them finished baseball around June 15 and then went to practice for soccer the next day. The children don’t get a break or vacation.

“It’s not a bad idea, but I want to see it without the COVID. That makes it more difficult this year, but maybe it will be better next year. “

Wheeling Central’s Mike Young, who is preparing for his 50th coaching, sees the pros and cons of the calendar change.

“After a whole school year to take a break in June and then come back in July with a mini camp, I don’t think it’s a bad idea.” said Jung. “But it’s something people have to get used to. I think the idea of ​​taking a break is a good one, but (July) is better to prepare for August. “

Football teams were again able to use June as a strength and fitness month. But much more sport-specific work can be done during the three weeks.

Park, for example, will be spending much of the time this month installing and working on his passing game.

“We will use the three weeks to install most of our throwing devices”, said Daughterty. “Since you really can’t block and you can’t hit anyone, it’s difficult to prepare for the running game. But with the pass we are able to be ahead of the game and then we will be hit hard in August. “

The entire three-week concept is completely new to John Marshall head coach Justin Kropka, whose high school-level coaching experience was entirely in Ohio, where the off-season rules are significantly different.

In Ohio, there was basically no rule this summer about the number of days a coach could work with their team, while in the past each coach was limited to 10 days to be used at their own discretion.

“I’m sure there was a reason for this, but I never understood the couple of weeks in June, take a whole month off and then start again in June.” Period said. “I think it makes so much more sense for a lot of reasons.”

Kropka cited primarily the health and safety of the players. Going through the July heat helps get the player used to the heat better when the August doubles are running around. Additionally, he believes that upon resumption, players will have a much better grip on both offensive and defensive schemes.

“I can’t remember where I put my keys 10 minutes ago, let alone asked these kids to spend a month remembering a plan without practicing.” Period said. “I hope it stays that way. It only enables better continuity. “

Speaking of Ohio Games, Wheeling Park opens with St. Clairsville on August 27th. The Patriots head coach believes this three-week period can help bridge the void of some of the Ohio School’s perks, which include the start of the pre-season season, an extra scrimmage, and the looser summer rules mentioned above .

“As a West Virginia guy, I always felt that Ohio had a head start, but that is just something you have to deal with when you live in this part of the state and play against teams from both sides of the river.” said Daughterty.

Kropka admitted that whenever he played a West Virginia team during his tenure at Harrison Central, he always tried to get that game early in the season, as Buckeye State has the same built-in advantages.

Young has now spent half of his coaching career with the Maroon Knights and the other half in St. Clairsville.

“I have worked in two different environments and have had good results in both places.” said Jung. “Whatever you give me, whatever month you give me or not, we’ll try to make the most of it anyway.”

(Sports editor Joe Catullo contributed to this story)

Latest news and more in your inbox