Cass athletic director Nicky Moore and athletic coordinator Bobby Hughes spent a significant portion of the imposed break from sports preparing for how the Colonels would return.
The pair did plenty of planning but no implementing. Eventually, the inability to follow through on their ideas, due to directives from higher-ups at both the county and state levels, forced Moore and Hughes to change their approach.
Instead of being proactive, the duo decided to become more reactive, waiting to see what information would become available before leaping into action.
“It does get to be a little bit frustrating, but obviously, maintaining everyone’s safety is paramount,” Moore said Tuesday. “You want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to make sure kids are conditioned for when the time comes. You start putting together a plan, and then you find out a week or two later, we’re still not given the A-OK to go ahead. Now, you’ve got to make a new plan. …
“We just got to the point where we decided to stop banging our heads against the wall and just wait until directions were given to us — not just from Georgia High School [Association] but also through Bartow County — and then we would make a plan. It almost makes you feel like you’re not doing the things that you need to do. It’s just difficult, because you want to follow the guidelines and the protocols that are set forth.”
Well, once the GHSA made their initial announcement in May, which laid out ground rules for a modest return to athletics with conditioning and weight lifting able to begin June 8, what followed was a meeting with stakeholders throughout the county school system before each individual high school created their own plan of action.
“I think the folks at Georgia High School have put together a good plan,” Moore said. “Rather than just turning folks loose and saying, ‘Go at it full-steam,’ they’ve taken into consideration that kids have been sitting at home and maybe not doing the things that they needed to do.
"By having this type of acclimation period just to get them back on campus and following the guidelines that are set forth, I think that’s going to pay dividends by making sure folks are easing their way back into a normal routine.”
As Monday's return grows closer, Moore and Hughes have been working with the fall sports teams that will be the first to take advantage of the on-campus workouts.
Having previously served as the head football coach for six seasons, Hughes has been an asset for newly hired Steve Gates, who will be entering his first year in charge of the Colonels.
“With football being the largest group to try to organize, coach Gates has worked very closely with coach Hughes,” Moore said. “They’ve done a great job of maintaining integrity and sticking to the guidelines, but then also allowing each of the kids an opportunity to get into the weight room and do some conditioning outside on the practice fields, as well. …
“Coach Gates and coach Hughes have put together a plan I really think is going to benefit our kids, making sure they are being able to get on campus and also keeping in mind the [social] distancing aspects.”
Cross country runners are able to sign up online to participate in conditioning. The other three fall sports — competition cheer, softball and volleyball — have yet to hold tryouts. Even still, Moore said plans will be put in place for interested members of each of those teams to eventually participate in workouts, although the latter two sports won't be able to start Monday.
“We’re in a unique situation right now with some of our fall sports,” Moore said. “Right now, we’re looking for a head volleyball coach. We haven’t really put any concrete plans in place for our volleyball team. We expect to be situated with that in the next week or so.
"Our head softball coach actually just got married this past weekend, so Colonel Nation is excited for her and her husband. They’re going to spend some time together. Once she gets back early next week, she will meet with coach Hughes to put a plan in place.”
Eventually, Cass will open up to allowing those from non-fall sports to take part in conditioning and weight lifting — if for no other reason than to ensure that all Colonel athletes are working out safely.
“We’ve had several kids who have done some things their coaches have passed along to them at their house and some things on their own, but obviously, it’s a little different when you’re doing it with the watchful eye of a coach or a coaching staff,” Moore said. “It’s going to take some work. Our coaches and our trainer Diana Bell, they’ve put together a great plan. We’re excited for the opportunity to get back and get to work.”
Moore noted that information regarding the school's plans will be available on the Cass High website, while info could also be posted through team-specific social media accounts. He can also be contacted directly to answer any questions.
For as hectic as the past few weeks have been organizing protocols for a return, Moore is thrilled to be able to see a plan finally come to fruition.
“Our kids and coaches are eager and want to get things rolling,” he said. “They miss each other, and they miss the opportunity to go out and compete. We just have to make sure we’re making safety the No. 1 priority and take it in baby steps.”