Sports resume Monday in Marion County as students start classes

High school coaches are getting creative to make sure sports are played safely.

In Marion County, high school football practice is starting on Monday. 

Lake Weir High School Head Football Coach Eoghan Cullen said things will look different. 

Coaches spent the weekend preparing locker rooms, weight rooms putting up signage and cleaning. 

“I am very ready for tomorrow (Monday),” he said. “We’re going to have to sanitize all of our practice equipment every day. We’re going to have to sanitize footballs every day,” he said.

The team was cleared to do summer workouts back in June. 

That’s when the school came up with a "pod system" for football players. 

It works by assigning players to groups of 10 or smaller to minimize exposure to others. 

Those players will stay together through working out, practice and any other team-related activities. 

That way if a player gets sick or is exposed to COVID-19, only their pod will have to sit out rather than an entire team. 

“Whether it was a workout inside the weight room or out here on the field, they stuck together as pods and never separated,” said coach Cullen.

Other changes include reducing the amount of physical contact players have with their pods. 

During games, players who are not actively participating will be socially distant on the sidelines and wearing masks. 

The school will also limit the number of spectators in the stands. 

Fans will have to sit six feet apart.

Practices will also be shortened from the typical three-hour practices to two hours. 

With the pod system in place over the summer, player pods participating in workouts did not experience any COVID cases. 

“Parents put a tremendous amount of trust in us, so we, as coaches, have to take the extra step to ensure we’re doing the right thing,” coach Cullen said.