VACHERIE, La. (WVUE) -
At first, especially during individual drills, things don’t look too different from a normal practice for the Wildcats. Players are separated by position working with individual coaches.
But then you notice that every so often, practice is paused not just for water that’s only handled by one person, but to spray down balls, pads and anything else you could think of.
“This is something that is going to refocus everybody if you’re doing it right,” says St. James head coach Robert Valdez. “You may make a mistake here and there, but as long as you have a plan and try to work your plan. You just refocus. Of course we want to win, but that’s secondary to making sure we have a safe, secure environment.”
Those steps include temperature checks to make sure everyone at practice is below 100.3 degrees, frequent reminders to coaches to sanitize, and even providing individual hand sanitizer bottles for the players.
“Football in our community is very important,” says Valdez. “It’s a large makeup of who we are. Our parents and our community embrace it. They keep up with the news. They knew when it was time, and they were like, ‘What’s the plan coach? Tell us the plan.’ And we’ve got great numbers and great participation.”
But despite all of the added safety precautions and extra measures taken that make running a football practice a little less fluid, coach Valdez says his players are excited just to be with their teammates again.
“It was almost like the first day of school,” says Valdez. “They were so glad to see each other. Even though they talk on the phone and do all the social media and stuff, it doesn’t beat the human face to face interaction.”