Plant City student-athletes return to the football field

Tampa Bay-area schools permitted voluntary football workouts to begin on Monday
Posted at 9:36 PM, Jun 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-15 23:26:28-04

PLANT CITY, Fla. -- Student-athletes across the Tampa Bay area — Hillsborough, Hernando and Pinellas counties — hit the field for supervised, voluntary workouts for the first time on Monday.

However, they're all required to follow strict safety guidelines because of coronavirus.

Groups are limited to 20 (including coaches), while the lockers and showers will remain closed.

At Plant City High School, student-athletes were just happy to be back together.

“It feels good,” Raiders receiver Regan Ealy said. “I haven’t seen him or him in awhile.”

Before players step on the field, six feet apart, Plant City head coach James Booth is required to ask six questions.

Do you have a fever? Cough? Sore throat? Shortness of breath? Recent loss of taste or smell or anyone you know have COVID-19?

If the players answer “no” to all the questions then they can workout.

The scene was like a normal early season workout. No pads, temperature in the mid-90s. Individual instruction without collision but except there is that constant reminder that this is anything but a normal practice.

“Make sure you spread out guys, spread out,” a coach would yell.

Social distancing and health guidelines set by the Florida High School Athletic Association were at the forefront.

To keep the numbers low, three position groups arrive at staggered times. Also, players must bring their own water bottles and they can’t share.

Rules that might seem silly to some.

“I don’t know how to say it. It’s personally -- to me -- stupid,” Ealy said. “But, it’s football. We have to go by the rules if we want to play.”

And that — we can all agree on.