Edison basketball player Jaycee Davis said it felt strange getting her temperature checked Monday morning, but it was worth the trouble.

“I’m glad to be back here,” she said. “I miss basketball.”

Area student-athletes returned to campus for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March for conditioning work with their coaches.

At Edison, 65 football players worked out on the practice turf while about 60 girls in basketball, fast-pitch softball and volleyball worked in a wide yard between the gymnasium and baseball diamond.

At Broken Arrow, football coach David Alexander welcomed 133 players who reported in three groups and worked on the artificial turf at Tiger Memorial Stadium. Other sports were to report later Monday.

Never has it seemed such a blessing to do stretches and calisthenics under a boiling sun.

“It felt beyond me. I’m just glad to be home,” Broken Arrow running back/receiver/defensive back Keyon Barnett said.

Barnett said he’s spent most of the last three months isolated from teammates, “mostly eating and sleeping. Now I can work out again.”

But it wasn’t all business as usual. Coaches and players worked in facemasks and had to meet safety protocols just to remain on the premises.

Athletes had to test for a temperature lower than 100.4 degrees and answer “no” to a series of questions used to determine if they had had recent contact with anyone showing coronavirus symptoms.

And then there was the constant washing of hands.

“Having to put on hand sanitizer after every (weight) rep was kind of weird,” Barnett said. “We were doing cleans and squats and after every set, I went to get hand sanitizer because there were multiple people on the rack.”

Athletes were split into smaller groups and each group is to remain together all summer for isolating the virus in case someone in any particular group tests positive.

Edison volleyball coach Lauren Merrill said, “We’re just going with the flow. It’s a little different than what we’re used to, but we’re just happy to be back together and getting ready for our season.”

When that season will begin is anyone’s guess. According to Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association guidelines, preseason practice begins July 15 for volleyball, fast-pitch softball, cross country and fall baseball.

However, planning for many of the area’s districts extends no further than June 26, and no activity-specific instruction is allowed in the meantime. Administrators are hopeful for more direction Tuesday when the OSSAA board of directors meets in a 9 a.m. teleconference.

Alexander said everything is in flux.

“Usually, you have a calendar built that runs from Jan. 20 all the way through the (Class 6A) championship game. But that’s out the window,” he said. “Right now I have a two-week calendar and when we get to the middle of next week, we’ll put together a plan for the last two weeks of June.”

Alexander said he’s just excited to have everyone together again.

“It’s been a really strange three months and it feels great to get back,” he said. “Are their differences and changes? Sure there are. But we’re out here doing things that football players do. We’re lifting and running and supporting one another. This is the most amazing feeling I’ve had in a long time.

Gallery: Broken Arrow football team returns to practice following COVID-19 isolation

Mike Brown 918-581-8390


Twitter: @mikebrownTW