“The kids showed up, then more showed up, more showed up and more showed up,” Sealy head football coach and athletic director Shane Mobley said of the first day back to strength and conditioning activities on June 8. “First morning to have 105 boys here, we addressed the situation how important everything is and we told them this morning; the first week or two, we just want to get the legs back underneath them because their body's gonna go through a lot.”
Monday morning saw the return of limited, socially distanced strength and conditioning exercises across schools in the University Interscholastic League. It was the first UIL-sanctioned event since the abrupt end to the basketball state championships in March due to the new coronavirus pandemic.
Over the course of the morning workouts, 254 total Sealy students participated in activities on the first day with 105 high school males, 61 high school females and 88 junior-high athletes. Each student-athlete was questioned for symptoms and had their temperature taken upon entry before joining the group they were assigned to for the entirety of the strength and conditioning session from June 8 to July 31. Within the groups, the student-athletes are to practice social distancing and use the hand sanitization stations strewn about the workout site.
The athletes were also grouped on different campuses; male high schoolers checked in at the middle school and used T.J. Mills Stadium while the female high schoolers used the high school campus with both groups going from 7 to 9 a.m. Junior high student-athletes followed the male high schoolers at the stadium from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Mobley said he started the morning at the stadium, went to the high school to check on the girls then returned to T.J. Mills Stadium but said his favorite part was seeing the kids in person. Mobley also took advantage of the time he had in front of the student-athletes to relay a message about the current events.
“There's so much going on in the world today with (COVID-19) and all the political aspects going on, we talked to the kids this morning about how we're all one group,” Mobley said. “This is one place that you can come to that you want to challenge each other, you want to get better, you want to fight, you want to compete. But in here, we're two colors; we're black and gold and we wear the Tiger stripes.”
Mobley knows this collective group of young people will soon enter the real world and the lessons learned in the gym that Monday morning will carry weight outside of the athletic arena.
“The expectations when we're together are, we're not going to fight – I told the girls the same thing, have pride in who you are, have a voice, stand up,” Mobley said. “There's the right and wrong and I'm not going to tell you what you should believe in but as coaches, we believe that you lead that way, by your actions and what you do.”
Coaches showed their leadership by showing up before 6 a.m. Mobley said, even newly hired Joshua Kirton.
“Kids that showed up, coaches were already here,” Mobley said. “One of our new coaches that we just hired, he came in, he couldn't wait. He said, ‘Coach I gotta be there, I want to see the kids,’ and here he is running a station and getting to know the kids so it's great to see all this.”
Kim Boyd, head volleyball coach and girls’ athletic coordinator, agreed with that sentiment and said it was awesome to see the student-athletes again even though there’s still social distance.
“They're my kids, I know all of them so it's really hard to be this far apart,” Boyd said Monday morning. “I've been FaceTiming with them and GroupMe and Zooming but it's still a little too tough for me because I like to hug so now I'm having to air-five.”