BELOIT—The first bit of optimism regarding an on-time start for the WIAA football season came recently, and local coaches are excited about the prospect.
WIAA Deputy Director Wade Labecki, speaking on the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Radio Show in Milwaukee, said he expects the football season to begin on time.
Labecki said the WIAA was working with various health agencies in order to nail down some guidelines to get prep athletes back on the field.
“I do believe on August 3 that we will be issuing equipment, and that the first whistle that next morning will be the start of practice,” Labecki said. “And I do believe that the same will be said for cross country the next week and volleyball two weeks later. Somebody might change that on us, but right now that’s our perspective.”
Beloit Turner coach Derek Diehl said he is preparing for business as usual.
“In our situation, we have to prepare for a season,” Diehl said. “We can only control what we can. and we need to make sure we’re properly prepared for having school in the fall, and football is a part of that.”
Diehl said the loss of activities in June will be impactful, but certainly won’t submarine the season.
“For what we do at Turner, we’re not going to lose out on too much,” Diehl said. “June is the time when kids go to college camps to get exposure and individual instruction. We also have two seven-on-seven leagues that we’ll miss out on. For us, that’s when we really install our pass concepts, so we’ll have to work that more into our camp in July. We have five days that we can work with kids in July, and hopefully we’ll be able to take advantage of that.”
Diehl said he will utilize the available technology to reach his team.
“We’re going to be sharing some virtual playbooks through Hudl so that kids can access those,” Diehl said. “And we’re going to be making some changes this season. There’s no secret that we struggled in the run game last year, and I take full responsibility for that. We want to get back to a physical run game while maintaining a multiple look on offense. That’s something that’s going to take a lot of time and effort to invest in, and we’ll find a way to do that.”
Off-season weightlifting has long been a key component in football. Diehl said he’s eager to take advantage of an upcoming asset.
“We’ve come a long way from where we were six years ago in the weight room,” Diehl said. “But we’re still not where we want to be. We’re in the process of changing the culture, and there’s a lot of things that go into that. It’s the phy ed department, it’s the coaches in other sports, and it’s the athletes themselves. We’ve taken steps in the right direction there. We are getting a new weight room that should be ready by August or September that’s triple the space that we have now. It’s going to be a great opportunity for our kids to train.”
While the current weight room isn’t accessible to students, Diehl said he’s trying his best to make sure kids are in shape when the time comes.
“I just sent out an email yesterday with some ideas and concepts for kids to use,” Diehl said. “Not everyone has access to the YMCA, but I sent out some development stretches and training that uses body weight only, which any kid can do in their backyard. Even if it’s the 3,000 burpee challenge, that’s something that can change your physique.”
Diehl said he’s optimistic about having the season start on time.
“Anybody who thinks the sky if falling wastes a lot of time worrying if their heads will be in the clouds,” Diehl said. “Up until the moment we receive word from the WIAA or the state that it’s not safe, that’s how I’m going to proceed. There might be a few hoops to jump through, but I think by now we’re all used to jumping through hoops.”
Beloit Memorial coach Ken Dubose said he was pleased to hear Labecki’s optimistic views.
“I think it’s a testament to the WIAA being committed to athletics,” Dubose said. “I’ve had the opportunity to participate in Illinois and Iowa, and everyone has a different viewpoint. I think it would be great to get back in contact with kids and give them a sense of normalcy.”
Dubose said that he’s hopeful the WIAA issues regulations shortly that will give the team the chance to gather, albeit in modified fashion.
“The regulations that were sent out early talked about having to sanitize the ball after every snap,” Dubose said. “I hope something like that gets taken out, but if not, we’d have to have one coach to handle that. I’m sure as they’ve gotten information, they’ve modified things, so it will be interesting to see what they come up with. I’m hoping they give us the ‘OK’ to get a small group of kids together to at least use the weight room. We don’t have the biggest and well-defined lifters in our school, and summer is when we really build them up. In our typical week, we have two days of strength and conditioning and one day of seven-on-seven. We’re looking right now at doing a lot of the playbook stuff online.”
Dubose singled out Griffin Oberneder, Anthony Crawford, Aiden Wright and Sebastian De La Torre as early leaders.
“Griffin is looking to be our quarterback and he’s been a great role model in how he goes about his business,” Dubose said. “Anthony hasn’t missed a workout and had a 4.0 GPA, and Sebastian and Aiden have also worked really hard.’
Like Diehl, Dubose is feeling good about the upcoming season happening.
“I do think we’ll have football, and that’s what I’m planning for,” Dubose said. “There will be some modifications. I think there’s a chance we might miss the non-conference portion of the season, because another district might have completely different regulations, and we might now want to risk it. Or it may be we just play schools closer to us to reduce travel. It’s all up in the air, but I think we will have a season.”