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Area teams ‘return to play’: Offseason regimens look different under new guidelines

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EAST DUBUQUE–Teams around the area are trying to decipher what the IHSA Return to Play guidelines look like when put into action. East Dubuque High School, led by first-year coach Joe Edler, is one trying to manage the changing landscape of weight lifting and conditioning during coronavirus. East Dubuque’s football program officially began its workout program on Monday, June 15. The Warriors have the varsity team start at 6 a.m. and the junior varsity team at 7:30 a.m.

Edler has broken his team into three stations of eight. One station works outside with stretching and band work, a second station is in the weight room with masks and a third group is outside working on speed training.

Edler said he and his staff sprays down all of the equipment between each group.

“It is a lot different from what we would like to see,” said Edler. “Hopefully by July 1 we can get closer to normal.”

Galena football also began its workout regimen on June 15.

“We have groups of 10 or less and have sessions in the morning and evening,” said Galena football coach Ed Freed. “We can only do strength and conditioning activities.”

The IHSA set guidelines that no activity can be sport-specific and must only focus on the acclimatization and general physical fitness.

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Freed is hoping the next phase will begin soon to continue with the workouts.

“As of right now, we are just opening up the weight room for non-sport-specific strength and conditioning,” said Matt Leitzen, new head football coach at Stockton.

Leitzen is hopeful about the state’s move to phase four and IHSA’s move to phase two of their return to play plan.

River Ridge football coach Doug Nicholas has also been faced with the same problems as Freed and Edler. River Ridge plays eight-man football, a sport which is not currently associated with IHSA, but is operating under the same framework as the IHSA return to play. .

“I know the kids are chomping to get going and so are we as a staff,” said Nicholas. “As of now, we are very, very limited. I hope once August rolls around we will be able to start practice as scheduled.”

Area volleyball programs are under the same regulations as the football programs and are trying to manage the best possible outcome for their student-athletes.

“Right now all we can do is focus on the physical aspects of the game,” said Galena volleyball coach Dennis Wills. “We simply can’t allow ourselves to get too far behind and we do that by getting in shape and with fundamental ball touches now. That way when we do get back in the gym, we are ready to go.”

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