With the fall sports season nearing closer, many people have been wondering what is happening with their school sport teams. Fortunately, the IHS Football team will be active for the fall season, and members are already training in preparation for their first preseason game, which will be on Jan. 16, 2020 against the Harbor Pirates from Santa Cruz.
Due to restructuring of the league to include a greater bracket, IHS Football’s schedule now consists of seven games planned, three of which are preseason. The season has been pushed back, and IHS Football has had one of its games cancelled, but the team has been doing off season training both virtually and in person three times a week.
In their virtual trainings, conducted over Zoom, the team has been doing team workouts. While the team is working hard to physically be ready, they have also been preparing their mental strength. “[We have] character meetings and trainings to get everyone in the right mindset and attitude to be able to win games next season,” said Samuel Ma (10), a starter linebacker.
As for in person trainings, to cooperate with the social distancing guidelines, the team stays 6 feet apart when doing drills and all team members are required to wear masks. Ma explains, “[We would go] an hour at a time with the same pod, the same group of 10 people, so they can do the contact tracing if anyone actually got Covid-19.”
One of the biggest challenges in training has been a lack of strength training. Strength training is crucial in reducing injury and increasing performance, but not all students have the necessary equipment for strength training, like barbells, plates, dumbbells, etc. Additionally, other training like skill development, which many first and second year students are new to, require in person training.
Mentally, team building is another obstacle. “[Team building] is going to be a big challenge for all head coaches trying to bring a group of individuals who are different in so many different ways together to get them to grow together and personal relationships,” said Mr. Kaufman, the IHS Football coach. “What I’ve done is just try to get them together as much as possible via Zoom. Whether it’s a movie night, whether it’s a hike up mission peak, we’ll have to create more opportunities. And it’s something that as a staff, we’re very aware of. But I also think that we’ve done our due diligence with taking advantage of this opportunity, not wasting it and doing as much as we possibly can to bring our teams together, not just for the sake of football, but to support them as student athletes that are in season.”
One thing uncertain about the season next year is the number of spectators allowed to attend. This could pose a threat for players trying to be scouted, explains Ma. “It’s gonna be very light stands at most.”
Competitions will include physical contact. For districts to approve full physical contact, it must first be approved at the state and more importantly, county level. As the county allows for different “phases,” safety regulations gradually loosen, allowing limited contact, shared equipment, full games, etc.
Recruitment was also especially difficult. Normally, the Irvington athletic director would directly promote Irvington’s sports programs at a local junior high during spring. This year, Mr. Kaufman had to personally reach out to the Horner principal and provide his contact info to interested students. However, despite the difficulties, there are around 70 students currently in the IHS Football program, an increase from the past few years.
Mr. Kaufman hopes for IHS football not just to win, but also for the season to be a learning process for students. “We talk about character a lot on our team and how character drives the process, which drives the result,” said Mr. Kaufman. “Our program is focused on developing, not just men, but men and women that are going to better themselves to make an impact in their future communities.”