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August 8, 2020

7/29/2020 11:53:00 AM
It's F.A.M.I.L.Y. time on the football field
JCHS football players form a circle during their F.A.M.I.L.Y. time on the field. Coach Sharp invites high schoolers to come out and play his sport or any other sport they are interested in.—Staff Photos by Jonathan Kipper
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JCHS football players form a circle during their F.A.M.I.L.Y. time on the field. Coach Sharp invites high schoolers to come out and play his sport or any other sport they are interested in.—Staff Photos by Jonathan Kipper
Jonathan Kipper
Sports Reporter

It is easy to say that when Justun Sharp was gearing up for his second season has head coach of the football team, this is not the past few months that he envisioned leading up to the season.

"Who could have foreseen COVID happening," said Sharp. "We had a lot of momentum coming off of last year, had a lot of kids coming and working out in the weight room up through March. Then everything happened and we had to shift what we were doing."

Like many teams did during the layoff from practicing together, Sharp would hold practices online three days a week. During these practices, the athletes would be lifting anything they could get their hands on, from tires to bricks. They would also do things such as sprint workouts and going over plays.

Even though the team could still practice in person beginning on July 6, it still isn't back to normal. Football, just like every other sport and group meeting at the high school, is having to follow the athletic department's guidelines for reopening.

With the guidelines, teams can only take up 50% of their practice venue's capacity. The equipment used during practice and in the weight room has to be cleaned off and sanitized after use. Locker rooms were also not allowed to be used during the first two weeks back to practice.

"We are trying to maintain the social distancing while continuing to have an intense workout as well," Sharp said. "We're doing it in an effective and safe way as there are regulations that must be met."

These were very apparent on the team's first day back to practice when a lighting strike occurred. The team had to leave the field for 30 minutes after the strike, which is protocol. However, due to social distancing, the players and coaches had to split up into separate buildings to ensure the guidelines.

During Phase I of the reopening plan, which lasted from July 6-19, there were no pads used by the players and no hitting equipment to ensure minimal contact during practice. With Phase II starting on July 20, however, players will be able to suit up in pads and have contact practices again. Contact is one segment of the reopening plan that changes between Phase I and II.

Although the offseason hasn't gone quite as the team had hoped for, the preparation for the upcoming season has still gone well.

"I have been very happy with our kids ability to be flexible," said Sharp. "They have been flexible for the last three months now, showing a lot of resiliency and determination. They are showing that they care about this team and want to be a part of it. It's something that you are seeing with all of the teams here at the high school right now."

A key part to this coming together by the team may be the mindset being instilled in them. This year, the Panther football team's motto is F.A.M.I.L.Y., which stands for "Forget About Me, I Love You".

"You have to put others before yourself in this environment and era," Sharp stated. "We have to see that these kids are good citizens in their community, good to their family at home, and good to their community here at the high school."

The Panther "F.A.M.I.L.Y." practices every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday at the high school starting at 8 a.m. at the football field. Coach Sharp encourages kids to come out and play football or any other sport they would like.

Practices are all voluntary throughout the entire summer period, according to the reopening guidelines from the athletic department.

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