HS FOOTBALL: Buffs given homework amid school closure

ADRIAN O'HANLON III | Staff photoMcAlester head coach Forrest Mazey directs players during the 2019 spring game at Hook Eales Stadium. Health concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus has presented a lot of questions for student athletes in the spring.

There’s a lot of uncertainty for the future of high school athletics amid the global coronavirus pandemic, but McAlester football coach Forrest Mazey is offering his players remote ways to stay in shape.

While the Oklahoma Department of Education has closed all school buildings for the remainder of the school year and temporarily canceled extracurricular activities, Mazey said that he and his staff are doing everything they can to ensure that they have a plan.

"I kind of figured it would come," Mazey said. "But didn’t know what extent."

Mazey said he knows that there’s a chance that he may not get his players back until summer, which would mean losing the work usually built upon in the spring months.

"It’s a harsh reality, but it is what it is. We’re just trying to do what’s best for the kids,” Mazey said. "I hate it for all the seniors because their careers are done."

Mazey said that the Department of Education’s decision was done so on the behalf of public health, and he wants to make sure his players stay fit and healthy.

"The safety of our athletes is a priority,” Mazey said. "I just worry about the safety of the kids, not just the virus but being conditioned and strengthened properly."

Mazey said he and his staff have been creative when formulating a plan.

The entire football coaching staff has been having conference calls, keeping each other informed and curating new ways to keep players active.

"During our conference call, we talked about what we can do for them,” Mazey said. "It’s unfortunate. It’s never been a situation where these facilities are shut off to them.”

So the Buffs have been given homework.

Using social media and text messages, the football coaches are giving their players workout routines and schedules that they can follow while staying safely at home.

Some of the workouts include pushups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, and planks that are spread out among three days. Players must also chose a conditioning activity to do daily, such as play a sport, jump rope, or hill sprints.

Mazey said that since they can’t hold an organized practice, the players will be tested to work while nobody is watching.

"That’s the true test of a champion,” Mazey said.

Mazey and coaches across all sports will know more in the coming days as they decide how to proceed as the situation continues to evolve. But he said that the absence of sports and other events that people enjoy has provided a stark reminder of how those things affect one’s life.

"You really don’t understand how much you miss the routine, and the kids and people you work with on a daily basis,” Mazey said.

Contact Derek Hatridge at dhatridge@mcalesternews.com

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