COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The GHSA gave to go-ahead to restart football practices on June 8, but Muscogee County schools had to wait.
On Monday, the school district gave the word. Programs can begin voluntary on-campus workouts on July 6.
"I've been doing this 40 years and I've never seen anything like it," said Columbus High coach Phil Marino. Dealing with the effects of COVID-19 and being unable to hold practices for months has his team itching to get back.
“It’s been frustrating,” said Marino. “You’re so used to just flowing from the end of school from spring practice right into this, you know? It’s just 12 months out of the year and it’s a little different having to wait around and I know the kids are chomping at the bit too.”
Monday’s announcement from the office of MCSD athletic director Jeff Battles said the delay and decision to reopen was made after consulting with local health officials. Marino was supportive of the caution.
“I totally understand what’s going on,” he said. “I’m all about the kids’ safety too.”
"The kids take precedence over football so their health and well being is first and foremost so pushing the date back and prolonging it was to the benefit of the kids," Hardaway football coach Michael Woolridge said. It is a tough situation since most schools in the state have already started working out, but Woolridge isn't using that as an alibi.
“We’re not making any excuses,” said Woolridge. “Whether we start July 6th, August 6th, December 6th we’ve got to hit the ground running.”
Even though it's a later start, coaches know it's to keep kids safe.
“I think they did the right thing,” Woolridge said. “Always the kids’ well-being is first and foremost for us.”
Marino echoed Woolridge’s statement. “We’ll just try to do our part to make sure the kids stay safe and we’ll get this thing going and just continue on.”
No matter when it is, they’re ready to get back on the field to prep for the season.