Sports will return to local high school campuses this week, but it won’t look the same for everybody.
Area football teams will soon be back on the field, but that’s not the case for all sports depending on which school you attend. Each school will be opening its campus to each team, though not all have chosen to return.
Some spring sports such as baseball or softball, teams won’t be on campus until later this summer, if they come back at all. But fall sports teams on a time crunch — football and volleyball — will pick up practice this next week at each area school.
However, schools such as North Port and Port Charlotte expect to see several winter and spring teams back on campus this week.
“We just opened up to basically our teams that normally do preseason conditioning,” North Port athletic director Tony Miller said. “Pretty much all of our fall sports are getting started back up again and of course baseball and basketball because they never stop.
“As long as we have enough coaches for these kids, there shouldn’t be a problem.”
For schools with several teams back on campus schedules are being staggered so that all teams aren’t practicing at the same times.
And it’s not just schedules that schools will have to manage.
“I’m actually on Amazon right now,” said Miller when asked how he’s going to come up with the extra cleaning supplies. “I have in my cart 400 towels and spray bottles. We already have what we need to clean the outside facilities. Cleaning the weight room and the equipment will be the toughest part.”
The biggest difference this coming week will be the way in which Sarasota, Charlotte and DeSoto counties differ in their protocols.
Charlotte County and DeSoto County schools face very few limitations in their return to practice — no time limits, access to gyms and weight rooms and the ability to utilize equipment.
But Sarasota County is ushering back athletics in four phases. In Phase 1, which begins Monday, teams will be allowed one hour of outdoor exercise without the use of equipment.
“In the first two weeks you can bring your own stuff, so we’re having our players bring their own volleyball and jump rope,” Venice volleyball coach Brian Wheatley said. “We’re just gonna do stations where we condition them, work on footwork on the tennis courts and do some individual ball control against the wall and things like that.”
While most area coaches have a good idea of what they want practice to look like over these next few weeks, it’s safe to say no one knows exactly what to expect.