Fall athletic practices begin across Bryan County

Kevin Farr,
The Bryan County News
Durant High School Lady Lion softball players work on base-running drills during the first week of official practices.

Despite some notable anxiousness as to whether the 2020 seasons will go off completely as scheduled, fall sports across Bryan County - outside of football - are off and running with the first full week of practice allowed by the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association.

It was business as usual for the most part for many fast-pitch softball teams across the county as well as Durant’s cross country and tennis programs.

Durant softball coach Cody Little knows things could change on a moment’s notice during the current pandemic, but the Lady Lions are proceeding as usual with a few differences due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve been working hard lifting as well as strength and conditioning all summer but haven’t been able to do anything softball related, so to get to finally get out and practice after waiting for so long is huge for us,” Little stated.

“We’re trying (to) social distance the kids as much as possible, have everybody bring their own water containers and sanitize everything when we are done. We have modified our practice routine a little with smaller groups and less people in close contact. The school has also installed hand sanitizers in both dugouts, so a few things that are different, but most things are the same.

“Right now, it’s supposed to be business as usual according to our administration, and we are moving forward as scheduled. We know that all could change at a moment’s notice, though. Our administration is backing us 100 percent and we’re still planning on going to the tournaments at Broken Arrow and Shawnee as well as the OSU Festival to get us prepared for the state tournament,” Little said.

One thing that has been dramatically different for the Lady Lions as compared to normal is the lack of a summer schedule that allows coaches to see where younger players fit in.

Durant, along with most other schools in Bryan County, canceled any type of summer games or events.

“We’re used to going out and playing 15 to 20 summer games in June that helps see where everybody fits, and we didn’t have that this year,” Little said. “A lot of our older girls, though, have been playing travel ball most of the summer, so we expect them to already be pretty sharp. We have got a really big freshman class and there’s a lot of upside to them as well.

“We’re going to try and start scrimmaging people locally as soon as we can and do a lot of intra-squad stuff to see where we are at and where we need to get caught up. We want to practice and get sharp on some things, but we want to go try it out in a game setting before things start for real August 10,” he said.

Calera is another district that is business as usual at the moment while it continues to monitor the ever-increasing pandemic numbers.

“We are practicing as usual with no restrictions,” Principal Kevin Robinson commented. “We had to shut down our conditioning workouts a couple of times this summer because of some related positive tests. We are going to stop and go as needed to make sure everyone stays safe.”

Caddo also had a brief shutdown during this summer due to a positive COVID-19 test, but things are clear as of now.

In fact, the Bruins football team recently returned from a successful camp in McAlester.

“It’s really day-to-day and week-to-week,” Caddo football coach Jeremy Proctor added. “We are trying sanitize and wipe down equipment and stuff like that on a regular basis. We’re doing our daily workouts and hitting it pretty hard with two-a-day practices scheduled to start August.

“That doesn’t give us a whole lot of time for reps, however, with school starting on the 13th. We’re just happy that we’re able to keep athletic things going because I know that some schools are not.”

Unlike most schools in Bryan County, Silo has approached things much of the summer in normal fashion, with baseball and softball games taking place at various locations.

The Rebels are slated start their annual three-a-day baseball practices this month.

Durant High School softball coaches work with prospective players on hitting in the batting cages as practice commences for the 2020 season.