Clear Springs pitcher Mason Schulz works to a Summer Creek hitter during the bottom of the fourth inning of Game One of their Region II-6A area baseball playoff series at Humble High School on May 10, 2019.

As the University Interscholastic League on Monday extended its suspension of all sanctioned contests to practices and workouts, Galveston County high school coaches and athletic trainers maintained a positive outlook while encouraging their student-athletes to work on their own to stay in shape during the ongoing break in activities.

“What a great time to play catch with your dad again, if you haven’t done that in a while,” Clear Springs head baseball coach Chris Floyd said.

From the boys basketball state tournament to pre-district baseball tournaments, and beyond, high school athletics joined the rest of the sporting world in screeching to a halt due to fear of the spread of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

As of press time, all UIL activities are suspended until March 29, but response to the outbreak remains a fluid situation. Monday evening saw Galveston, Clear Creek, Dickinson, Friendswood, Santa Fe, Texas City and Hitchcock ISDs all announce operations will be suspended through April 10.

“When we got off the bus Thursday after they canceled everything, I told them that we don’t know what the plan ahead is, we’ll wait until we get answers from the people who make those decisions, but try to do some things to keep yourself active,” Floyd said.

While coaches are confident their student-athletes will stay fit, an extended break from game play and practices could pose an issue, in particular, for pitchers, Ball High head baseball coach Russell Ferrell said.

“Baseball kids are pretty good about staying in shape,” Ferrell said. “We just worry about the pitchers. If a pitcher takes two or three weeks off at this time of year, he has a likelihood of getting hurt.”

Another concern, if the suspension of activity drags on, is players losing some of their competitive edge and endurance.

“If we get a chance to play again, teams are going to be more reliant on using more pitching than you may have in the past, where you’d have your Tuesday and Friday guys, and if you can get six innings in, seven innings in, that’s what we’ve always done,” Floyd said. “Now, if we’re off for a month, it might be like non-district where if a pitcher looks tired in the third inning, we’ll go out and get him.”

Athlete or not, those in the sports medicine field are encouraging a healthy lifestyle as a way to help combat the coronavirus.

“Getting out and just being active — doing something for 20 to 30 minutes a day, at least, is going to do so much more than putting it off until tomorrow,” Dickinson ISD head athletic trainer John Harmon said. “Anything is better than nothing, at this point in time — whether it’s riding a bike or going out and playing basketball in the front yard, as long as they maintain their social distancing. Maybe, they play games of HORSE, rather than one-on-one.

“I wouldn’t encourage kids to go to 24-Hour (Fitness) or whatever gym they’re a member of; I would encourage them to stay at home, get outside in the sunshine where they’re breathing some fresh air and working their body out in those kind of ways,” Harmon added.

In addition to having already healthy student-athletes maintain their fitness, another concern during this extended suspension of school activities is keeping student-athletes who make use of a school’s athletic training facilities for their rehabilitation from an injury on track for a full recovery.

Dickinson’s athletic trainers plan to reach out to their rehabbing student-athletes during the break and provide them with rehab plans and equipment, if needed, Harmon said.

“I’m worried about those kiddos who have already been off a week-and-a-half,” Harmon said. “We want to make sure those kids have the resources they need to complete their rehab at home. If you’ve got a kid who’s two weeks post-ACL (surgery), and they’re just doing nothing now, they’re just digging themselves a bigger hole every single day they don’t do something.”

Social media has been an effective tool athletic programs have used to issue specific workout regimens to its student-athletes.

The Clear Falls football Twitter account, for example, made keeping in good shape a challenge for its student-athletes, tweeting the following message along with a list of workouts: “Captains: lead the way. Each day complete the workout attached, choose different exercises each day. Post a completed workout pic with a written statement of what you completed. Then challenge the members of your off-season teams to do the same. Use the hashtag FightToFinish.”

James LaCombe: 409-683-5242, or on Twitter @JamesAtGalvNews

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