Zionsville Community High School coaches have been preparing their teams for the fall sports season, but the COVID-19 pandemic has provided some definite challenges.
Girls soccer coach Ramon Aguillon said his team has been training since July 6 after it was given the go-ahead by the Zionsville school district and has been following Gov. Eric Holcomb’s social-distancing orders.
“We have been mostly focusing on fitness and conditioning,” Aguillon said. “There have been some days of non-contact soccer (with) specific instruction.”
The workouts have quite different.
“We have been separating players into small groups to minimize large gatherings,” Aguillon said. “Our soccer-specific training has been all non-contact. Coaching staff has been wearing masks at all times. Players have been wearing masks before and after practice. We have eliminated all indoor activities and (are) sanitizing soccer balls before every practice. I am trying to be optimistic about starting the season. However, I am also preparing for the worst. There is so much uncertainty right now with the number of positive cases growing around the state.
“We certainly want to give our players the opportunity to participate in high school athletics, but we want to do it safely. The hope is that we are able to do that this coming season.”
Boys soccer coach Rob Jordan, whose team won the Class 3A state championship last year, has the same wish.
“We do have a talented group of kids here, and hopefully we play and can at least try to defend our title,” said Jordan, who has 12 returnees from the championship team. “It would be such an incredible disappointment if we are not able to play. We are optimistic. It is a contact sport. It’s not quite like tennis where you can keep people separated.
“We are just working on what we can control. Those decisions that are out of our hands, we can’t be concerned with that.”
Chelsea Patterson replaced Suzanne Rigg as girls cross country coach. ZCHS was second in the 2019 state meet. Rigg resigned to watch her children compete in cross country and track in college. After competing at Alabama, her son, Oliver, will have his final year of eligibility as a graduate transfer at Arizona State. Her daughter, Sophia, will be a junior at North Carolina State. Patterson was an assistant coach in track and field and cross country at Zionsville West Middle School in 2019.
“Our athletic department has worked hard to create a set of guidelines, which is our main influence when it comes to structuring our conditioning sessions,” Patterson said. “Some of the obvious changes are prescreening forms, continuous hand-washing and sanitation, mask requirements (except during running), physical distancing and consistent small-running groups.
“We have leaned heavily on Strava and Zoom for progress monitoring and meetings. This was especially useful for our individual training that had to take place the first half of summer.”
Gabe Porras, the boys cross country coach, emailed workouts to each athlete in June and the coaching staff monitored their logbooks to make logical training plans for the following week based on the individual.
“In July, we were able to meet and train in small groups,” Porras said. “We have been in contact with several meet directors to see how meets will operate and look forward to our opportunities for competition.”
Maggie Nobbe, first-year girls golf coach, is optimistic the season will start on time. Practice begins July 31 with play beginning Aug. 3.
“I do think that girls golf is uniquely suited to support social distancing,” she said. “All I can do is get the girls ready and stay positive about the situation we are in.”