LA MARQUE

La Marque High School decided to do a little something different as a part of its voluntary summertime strength and conditioning program — working out the minds of student-athletes with an hour each Wednesday dedicated to life skills.

Last week, the Cougars and Lady Cougars learned how to jump-start a dead car battery. This Wednesday, it was a lesson on how to change a flat tire. Eventually, they’ll learn how to budget their personal expenses.

“We decided we’re going to take time out of our day to do this, and they loved it,” La Marque head football coach Shone Evens said. “If we don’t teach them, who will? And with our young ladies, with the way the world is now, they need to know things like how to jump a car. The world is a scary place right now, and they need to know that if they’re in a certain situation, they can take care of themselves. We’re having fun with it.”

Mondays and Tuesdays, the Cougars’ student-athletes conduct a variety of exercises focused on lower body and upper body, respectively, strength and conditioning. Each athlete is assigned their own weight with which they’ll work out, and they even report to the exact same spot on La Marque High School’s practice fields each day.

Female student-athletes occupy one section of the field, and younger male student-athletes occupy another. Football players are divided into groups with skill position players in one part of the field and linemen in another.

“We know where everybody is, everybody knows where to go,” Evans said.

Like with all schools operating their summer workout programs under UIL-mandated restrictions during the ongoing pandemic, La Marque is requiring pre-screening surveys regarding COVID-19 symptoms, temperature checks, social distancing during workouts and rigorous cleaning of equipment, among several guidelines.

Adjusting to these conditions hasn’t been easy, but it’s also something a coach is uniquely equipped to handle, Evans said.

“It’s like a football game — you can practice all you want one way, and as soon as you get there, you have to change to something different,” Evans said. “We’re coaches, so we learn to adapt to get the best out of the kids, and that’s just what this is. We’ve had to adapt majorly.”

Not being able to engage in the type of physical camaraderie common in sports, though, has been a somewhat of a struggle, Evans said.

“We’re kind of like a pig when you tell a pig to not get in mud because we’re trying to tell coaches to not give kids high fives and this and that,” Evans said.

Evans reported strong voluntary turnouts for La Marque’s summer workouts for his student-athletes and coaches, and he felt that the time apart was a primary motivating factor.

“The kids missed each other, and that’s one of the things that’s helping us now,” Evans said. “When you come up and lift weights and run and throw up and this and that, that can get old. But, the fact they missed each other is huge.”

And the turnout bodes well for when these student-athletes are allowed to play in actual games again, Evans said.

“If they realize that if they get this soreness out of the way right now, it’s only going to help them later on,” Evans said.

James LaCombe: 409-683-5242, james.lacombe@galvnews.com or on Twitter @JamesAtGalvNews

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