• 81°

Northside gets creative to keep athletes active

When the North Carolina High School Athletic Association loosened restrictions enough to where schools could do more than condition, Northside High School Athletic Director Jared Adams was ready.

Adams, along with football/baseball coach Keith Boyd, volleyball/basketball coach Michele Leathers and others, sat down to figure out how most Panthers teams could work out with equipment and coaches present twice a week.

It took more than a few brainstorming sessions and several drafts, but they came up with a plan that is complex, yet simple if every team follows its own schedule and doesn’t worry about the big picture.

BUNT: Ryan Cornelius works on his bunting technique during a Northside baseball workout. (Steve Barnes)

“That’s my job,” Adams said with a laugh. “I’m the one who has to know what day it is, and which teams will be where. We give every team Friday off, so I only have to think about it four days a week.”

Northside history teacher and assistant volleyball coach Melissa Boyd greets the athletes every day as they report. She takes their temperature and asks if they feel any symptoms that should keep them from attending the workouts. Once they pass, they go directly to their assigned space to get started. Here’s how the daily schedule looks:

  • Monday — The volleyball junior varsity works out for 45 minutes right after school, and then there’s a 15-minute transition time for cleaning and sanitizing before the varsity takes the court for their 45-minute session. After another 15-minute transition period, the girls’ basketball team takes over for the final 45 minutes, while cross country trains outside.

“We can have up to 25 in the gym at the same time, but we haven’t come close to that so far,” Adams said. “It’s more like 10-15 for volleyball and basketball. The state will also let each group go for 90 minutes, but we feel like 45 is enough at this point.”

  • Tuesday — The boys JV and varsity basketball teams follow the same schedule the girls do on Monday, while cross country and the baseball team trains outside.
  • Wednesday — While the volleyball and girls’ basketball teams are following their Monday schedule inside, the JV and varsity football teams, along with the cheer team, are outside on the field.
  • Thursday — The boys basketball teams and cross country repeat the Tuesday schedule.

    TOGETHER AND APART: Northside cross country runners practice social distancing while running the bleachers. (Steve Barnes)

The weight room is also open with a maximum capacity of 15 athletes.

“Everyone has done a great job so far with showing up on the right day and time and we haven’t had any problems. There’s a steady stream of athletes checking in at different times, so there is no bottleneck of kids getting too close while they wait.” Adams said. “We felt like we could get most of our athletes involved at least two days a week and it certainly is much better than everybody going home and doing nothing after school.”

The condensed schedule will challenge the multi-sport athletes the most, and Adams said they should benefit the most from the off-season workouts.

“These kids will have to hop straight from basketball into football into baseball almost literally the day after the previous season ends,” he explained. “Usually there is a week or two between seasons, depending on how playoffs work out. These guys need to have the work ethic and flexibility to do their skill development now because there won’t be time for that when their season does start.”