For the first time since mid-March, Abilene High School and Middle School athletes have been able to gather and practice together in sports activities.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought an end to the Kansas state high school basketball tournaments and after Gov. Laura Kelly shut down all schools that brought an abrupt end to the 2019-2020 high school sports season.
Student athletes have been regulated to home quarantine and Monday was the first day Kansas State High School Activities Association allowed voluntary summer conditioning workouts.
Many of the workouts have new guidelines set forth because of the COVID-19 virus concerns. These include group size limits, social distancing practices and disinfecting equipment.
With the loss of the spring sports season and many athletes unable to workout beyond just running, emphasis on these workouts has turned to conditioning.
Abilene’s new head football and track coach Brad Nicks is in charge of the organizing of the conditioning and skills sessions. He is being aided by multiple other head coaches and assistant coaches across the various sports.
Nicks has recently moved to Abilene and has found the community very welcoming.
“I love Abilene. I love the town,” he said. “I think it speaks volumes that when we first moved in and my moving truck rolled in, I had two neighbors that came over and helped. Everybody has just been so friendly and so helpful. I love the community.”
Nicks like the hundreds of other track coaches in Kansas and across the country for that matter really had trouble adjusting to not having a track and field season.
“Not having a track season was heart breaking,” he said. “I told somebody I don’t think the last time I didn’t have a track season was when I was in the sixth grade. I don’t really want to talk too much about that, but it was in the 80’s. It was a long time ago and I have always had a track season. It was tough, it was hard especially for the seniors that kind of got cheated out of that one last time.”
Nicks and his fellow coaches were excited to see the kids Monday as they gathered at the tennis courts south of the high school.
“I think it has been great for the kids to kind of get back and get together and be around each other,” he said. “The kids have been chomping at the bit to get back at it and start getting better.”
AHS Athletic Director Will Burton and middle school Athletics Director Derek Berns have provided guidance in outlining schedules for both boys and girls groups for conditioning as well establishing times for sport specific drills and techniques during the months of June and July into August before school reopens.
Burton indicated that the high school welcomed 75 boys and 63 girls on Monday as they began the summer commitment of conditioning.