Joey Fields hasn’t been able to get much done since he was approved as the new football coach at Herbert Hoover.
Fields took over the Huskies on March 2 and, 10 days later, prep sports around West Virginia came to a grinding halt due to the coronavirus pandemic. Fields only had time to hold one meetings with his players and set up a few weight training sessions.
Well, three months later, Fields can finally resume with his program.
Hoover will have another team meeting on Tuesday and the Huskies will begin conditioning work on June 22, which coincides with Phase 2 of the Secondary School Activities Commission’s comeback plan for high school athletics.
“We’re probably behind anyway,’’ Fields said. “It’s been unusual circumstances for a couple months now.’’
The Kanawha County Board of Education on Wednesday approved SSAC guidelines for easing athletes back into shape, sending its eight public high school football teams into catch-up mode with much of West Virginia.
Phase 1 of the plan went into effect Monday for counties that had already OK’d the workouts, including Putnam and Cabell.
Four Kanawha County football programs will start their Phase 1 drills this coming Monday — George Washington, Sissonville, South Charleston and St. Albans. Capital gets underway on Wednesday.
Two Kanawha teams got right to it the day after the county school board approved the SSAC plan — Nitro and Riverside, which began Thursday. The first Kanawha County institution to start conditioning, strength and agility work was Charleston Catholic, a private school that is not a member of the Kanawha BOE and does not field a football team. Catholic began this past Monday.
At Hoover, Fields realizes his team has some catching up to do — not just with other schools in Kanawha County, but those in surrounding counties as well.
“My guys don’t even know what stance I want them in,’’ said Fields, the former Mingo Central coach. “I didn’t put in schemes on Zoom or anything like that. Teaching is the best way of learning that. We’re going to be simple and focus on the little things and worry about us.’’
In Phases 1 and 2 of the SSAC plan, no sports-specific activities are permitted as coaches are entrusted with simply getting athletes back in condition after they weren’t allowed to use school facilities for three months.
“I was hired basically before spring break, and then this happened,’’ Fields said of the COVID-19 outbreak. “I missed a lot, and I’m anxious to get going. I want to get going with the building and understanding of the culture. I get to know them, and they get to know me. I’m not going to judge someone on word of mouth.
“I’m trying to keep our guys excited. The thing about this is not so much what you’re doing, but the effort you put in. If you get one foot going in front of the other and going hard with effort, we’ll get better no matter what we do. That’s my opinion.’’
Capital will be the next-to-last Kanawha County football program to get its workouts going. Coach Jon Carpenter said players will condition three days a week under the SSAC guidelines.
Carpenter, however, is leery about getting his athletes back together with so much uncertainty still surrounding COVID-19.
“You’ve got to go,’’ he said, “but I think it’s pretty scary to go out when you think that the professionals aren’t going out yet. It’s important for the high school kids to go and it’s exciting for football, but at the same time, you feel like we’re lab rats.
“I know the kids want to be out there, but there’s so much unknown about it. You can argue every side of it, but it’s hard to feel safe when not all of the colleges are back yet.’’
Phase 3 of the SSAC plan covers the traditional three-week summer practice period, which is set for July 6-25 for most counties in the state, including Kanawha and Putnam. Cabell has opted for the July 13-31 period.
Sports-specific activities are permitted in Phase 3, but no contact between players is allowed in football and no 7-on-7 passing games can be held with other schools.
Contact Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @RickRyanWV.