Last week when many schools began summer strength and conditioning workouts, the Santa Fe Indians stretched their mental muscles with educational and procedural sessions regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
During this registration period, student-athletes were educated on the daily process for checking into the summer workout sessions, the process for entering and exiting the school’s facilities, social distancing, the symptoms of COVID-19 and preventative measures.
Santa Fe athletic director and head football coach Matthew Bentley said the week of preparation helped his student-athletes transition smoothly to the following week’s exercises.
“This is all new to all of us — coaches, kids, the community, everybody,” Bentley said. “So, the registration week was all informational, telling them the kind of restrictions that we’re going through.”
Like with all schools operating their summer workout programs under UIL-mandated restrictions during the ongoing pandemic, Santa Fe is requiring pre-screening surveys regarding COVID-19 symptoms, temperature checks, social distancing during workouts and rigorous cleaning of equipment, among a litany of safety precautions.
A couple of unique wrinkles Santa Fe has added in regard to the guidelines are having workouts for its incoming seventh- and eight-graders on their own junior high campuses and staggering workout times.
Because one of the many mandates for summer workouts handed down by the UIL stipulates schools cannot provide student-athletes with water, requiring them to bring their own, Santa Fe opted to split its workout times into two one-hour sessions as opposed to one two-hour session.
“We thought it was best for our students, and just for safety reasons, to have them here for an hour if they had to provide their own water and we couldn’t provide it for them,” Bentley said.
Bentley reported higher than normal numbers at the strength and conditioning camp, so far, with about 140 student-athletes participating at Santa Fe High School and another 85 at Santa Fe Junior High. Over the past few years, the program has drawn roughly 200 total student-athletes each summer, Bentley said.
“I think a lot of it has been the parents saying, ‘Hey, you’ve been cooped up for the past two and a half months, let’s go and get you some work in,’” Bentley said. “Most of the students here are also athletes, but there are a few who are regular students just looking to get some work in.
“We open it up to everybody,” Bentley said. “They’re happy to see each other and to see us, and we’re happy to see them.”
The small cohorts of Indians student-athletes were divided up in no particular order, but those groups will remain the same over the course of Santa Fe’s workouts, per UIL recommendations.
“You’ll see a receiver, a quarterback, a baseball kid — they’re all just scattered,” Bentley said. “We’re just working them out, and we’re glad that they’re out here.”
The first week of actual physical workouts were held entirely outdoors, with a variety of different exercises each day. The Indians won’t hit the weight room until Monday, when allowable capacity increases from 25 percent to 50 percent, Bentley said.
“We’re doing bleachers, lunges, body weight exercises out here,” Bentley said. “We want to get our kids in shape right now because they haven’t really ran in two and a half months. So, we want to get them out here, get them running, and then when the restrictions start easing, we’ll start transitioning into the weight room.”