After an abbreviated fall season, athletes get reacclimated to sports

Student-athletes from Gloversville High School go through a training drill Wednesday afternoon at Gloversville High School. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)

When it was announced that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Foothills Council would only field teams in the low-risk sports of girls tennis, cross-country and golf, some student-athletes were left looking for something to do.

Some faced the challenge by joining the sports offered, while others worked out on their own or chose to concentrate on their school work.

With the fall season winding down and the winter season quickly approaching, the Foothills schools came up with a plan to reacclimate its athletes.

“The Foothills Council ADs met and talked about trying to reacclimate our kids back to sports,” Gloversville Director of Athletics Mike DeMagistris said. “Our goal was to get the low risk sports underway and have success with it. We feel, as a league, we had success with golf, cross-country and girls tennis. Once we got to a certain point we felt we needed to reacclimate our kids back to sports. When sports do start back up, some of these kids will be going from December through March in the second fall season then right on through to June. Some of these kids have not done anything since March. We decided to start a four-week program to help them.”

Approximately 70 students signed up for the program in Gloversville and Johnstown also had a solid turnout for the program.

“Our program concentrates on a dynamic warm-up, body-weight activation, speed and agility and core and flexibility. That will be our focus,” DeMagistris said. “One of the things we are now trying to focus on is hip mobility so the kids can change direction better. We do a good job going forward and backward but we are changing gears in how we train the kids and focus on the hip mobility. There is a lot of stretching and core work.”

The athletes are split up into two groups made up of athletes from every sports offered. Four different people run each session, which are held with one group on Monday and Wednesday and the second on Tuesday and Thursday. After the four-week session the coaches will be able to come in and start doing drills with their kids.

“When our sports finally start back up, we want our kids to be able to go out, compete and not get hurt,” DeMagistris said. “That is the biggest thing. The last thing we want to have happen is that when winter sports start on November 30, and a kid doesn’t go through this program, that he gets injured. You can’t prevent all injuries but you can do things that can happen without being reacclimated to sports. We have a good program here that I think is going to be successful. Every Foothills Council school is doing something and all started this week.”

In August, it was announced the “high” risk sports of football, volleyball and competitive cheerleading were being moved to the Fall Sports Season 2, which is scheduled to start practice on March 21, 2021. In late September boys’ and girls’ soccer, field hockey and girls swimming and diving added to the list. The school districts are waiting for a final decision in early November on the status of the winter sports season, which is scheduled to start practice on Nov. 30.

“Obviously, we are following all the COVID-19 guidelines pertaining to wearing masks and social distancing,” DeMagistris said. “We have been dealt some cards here that none of us wanted, so we are making the best out of it. Our kids are excited and happy to be back out here. We are going to make the best of our opportunities.”

By Paul Wager