An effective pre-season conditioning and training program is typically a key ingredient in a successful athletic season. So the hopes of Huntington High School sports teams are running high this fall as the Blue Devils are well into laying the groundwork for what everyone believes will be winning campaigns once competition begins in early 2021.
Huntington teams have been engaged in pre-season conditioning for several weeks. Athletes are happy to be back on the fields and courts with their teammates and coaches. There’s been a void in the lives of many since last March when the spring season was cut short after just one week.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has halted interscholastic sports competition until no earlier than January 4, Section XI schools are permitted to hold pre-season conditioning sessions and Huntington UFSD has availed itself of the opportunity.
A long list of safety protocols are in place, including temperature and health checks. Teams are working one or two days a week after school for at least an hour per session.
“Pre-season conditioning has been going well,” said Kaylee Dammers, who runs with the Blue Devil cross country team. “We’re very organized. We all get along and socially distance. It’s definitely not what I’m used to, but I understand that this year is different and I have to take different precautions to make sure my teammates and I don’t get COVID. Overall, I’m happy that I’m able to hang with the team and get to know the new people who joined and still be safe.”
The pre-season conditioning program is open to any high school student who wants to participate. The students must file an online health check form and have their temperature checked prior to the start of every training session.
“Pre-season conditioning has been going very well,” said Nina Drakulich, who plays on the Blue Devil tennis team. “It’s great to be on the courts with the whole team again and to refresh the basics.”
Players are putting up with the inconveniences that come with fighting a pandemic. “It’s been pretty good,” said Aidan Heller, who runs cross country and track for the Blue Devils. “Although the masks and specific restrictions are a little annoying, I am just happy being with the guys. Being with all of them on a daily basis again makes me feel like we are a little bit closer to normality.”
Teams are scheduled on specific days and at defined times to insure fields are open and proper distancing can occur. Indoor facilities are not being used.
“Pre-season is going pretty good,” Huntington varsity soccer player Wilber Cuadra said. “I like how everyone is working really hard. We have a lot of new faces that want join varsity and they are putting in the work for it. Honestly, being with my new teammates isn’t like before where we had a bond, but we’re working on it and I’m confident we can be really good. But the most important thing for us right now is getting everyone back into playing and building on team chemistry.”
Blue Devil boys’ soccer players have looked especially enthusiastic during the conditioning sessions. “It’s been going well,” veteran varsity starter Owen Husselbeck said. “The masks are annoying, but necessary. I haven’t been able to attend all of them because of work. It’s great to be with the team again though.”
While not a duplicate of a regular season experience, the training program is still going a long way toward giving the student-athletes what they need as far as the social aspect of being with their teammates.
“Pre-season conditioning, although not a normal practice, is going great,” said Laurel Bonn, one of the stars of the Blue Devil varsity field hockey team. “It has been so nice spending time and playing with my teammates again. Hopefully, we will have a field hockey season to show off the skills learned during this pre-season conditioning.”