OAKMAN — Spirits have ran high since the Oakman football team returned to workouts and preparation for the 2020 season.
Although coaches and the players corresponded regularly during the state-mandated COVID-19 lockdown through phone calls and social media, being unable to see one another on a daily basis both in the hallways and classrooms at school, as well as during spring football and other sports, was a challenge for the closely-knit group.
When players were allowed to return to preseason conditioning with new rules and regulations to help further prevent the spread of the virus, little could dilute the feeling of joy felt by the players and coaches to be reunited as a team once again.
“That first day we were all back together was like Christmas morning when you are a kid — you couldn’t sleep the night before. I think the prevailing thought was that it was like missing a member of your family when you spend so much time with these guys they become a part of you,” head coach Ryan Hall said. “The players themselves were just as excited. They’ve seen each other on some individual or in small groups, but when they were all together as a team you could tell it was very special — back with their buddies doing what they love to do in football.
“Though we did a great job in communicating with each other regularly, we didn’t have that same feeling of being together and working towards a common goal — being back as a program has got us into the routine of doing that.”
For many of the players, reuniting with their teammates and coaches meant the establishment of a routine that not only felt normal, but welcoming. Senior Austin Wood and junior A.J. Odom agreed with their head coach’s sentiment that being together as a team felt like “a big family reunion” as well.
“The first day we were all back made us appreciate how much we missed each other and love this sport. It made us feel that football season was going to happen,” Wood said. “With it being my last year, I wanted to come back and work really hard to make this year as successful as it can be.”
“I feel that since we are really close as a team that we were able to snap right back into place and get back to work easily. The cohesion never went away and it says a lot about how we are with each other,” Odom said. “There hasn’t been any setbacks — things felt normal, which is something all of us are happy to have once again.”
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