Hope keeps high school athletes, coaches going amid fall-season uncertainty

Posted on August 11, 2020 in Newspaper.

Coach Gallagher of Haverford High School conducts an after-practice pep talk while players take a social distance posture. Photo by: Medianews Group Photo

By Terry Toohey

Will Higson and roughly 30 of his Haverford High football teammates went through a grueling, 45-minute workout under a blazing sun Monday afternoon.

Normally, Higson and his teammates would have worn helmets for this training session, as Monday was supposed to be the first day of the PIAA’s week-long heat acclimatization period for football.

These, though, are not normal times.

The PIAA pushed back the heat acclimatization week’s start to Aug. 24 as it tries to figure out if there will be high school athletics in the fall during the COVID-19 pandemic. So T-shirts and shorts were the order of the day Monday, with not a helmet in sight.

That wasn’t the only sign that things are different in the age of the coronavirus pandemic. After the session was over, Haverford coach Joe Gallagher called the players together for the usual post-workout pep talk, only the players did not gather around their coach in tight cluster as is customary.

Instead, they spread out, standing the socially accepted six-feet apart, and all wearing masks, including Gallagher.

“We’re preparing as if there’s going to be a season,” Higson said. “We’re working hard every day. When we leave here we do our best to stay safe, social distance, wear a mask and stay away from things that can harm the football season because I know everybody on this team will do anything to have a season.”

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