Mesa football athletes adjust to new ways of training for spring season amid COVID-19

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Photo Credit: Mesa Office of Communications

The Mesa football team huddle together to hear their coach speak.

Jared Knobloch, Sports Editor

   Thanks to COVID-19, San Diego Mesa College’s 2020 football season has been delayed until the spring season, but players are still working on conditioning and practicing as a team, from a distance.

   The San Diego Mesa College Twitter account tweeted on July 14, “Mesa College will have all 21 sports moved to spring 2021.” It was also added that, “All California community college sports will be silent this fall semester. This six month delay will allow colleges to bring back sports safely to protect players, coaches and staff.” This means that all fall sports won’t have any scheduled games until next spring, hoping that the coronavirus concerns have passed by that time.

   In an interview with ABC10News, Mesa Football Head Coach Gary Watkins said, “Getting our student-athletes, you know, on campus safely, with a plan to have them here safely; our staff members being safe. I know we start practice in February, but there may be some time in January to get in front of the boys and get them acclimated, physically and mentally. Now more than ever, they [student-athletes] have to be all-in on their academics, their future, their development” 

   The returning players are experiencing something different this season. Sophomore wide receiver Daniel Williams is coming back for his second season at Mesa. “The whole COVID situation has messed up everyone’s time frame,” said Williams. He added, “I can’t meet up with my whole team and everyone is missing the games.”

   Even though the team hasn’t met in person much, they are still having weekly calls. “We are still on Zoom, so we can see each other, but there are a lot of new faces too,” noted Williams. The difficulty with having no face-to-face meetings also messes with team chemistry. Williams remarked, “I don’t know many of the new freshmen, mostly just the sophomores.”

   Williams is still working out by himself, as well as focusing on other things. “We keep working and grinding. It’s a comeback, not a setback,” said Williams.

   For the freshmen, things look a lot different than they’re used to in high school. Freshman quarterback Gunnar Gray has an optimistic outlook for this season. “Some positives in this situation is that everyone gets more time to prepare for the start of the season, and when the season starts, everyone will be rested and ready to go,” noted Gray.

   Players are still working out and staying in shape, so that when the season starts, the team is at 100 percent efficiency. Gray added, “The main things I have done to train are working out as much as possible, like lifting weights to get stronger. Other things I’ve done are throwing sessions with receivers to get better timing while working on our chemistry.”

   Sports are still the same during a game, with or without the coronavirus. “Football on the field is the exact same and I don’t believe the season will look any different. The coaches have said to make sure to be ready when the season starts. We’ve been following their advice to stay in shape and work out,” said Gray.

   “Colleges are used to losing players every year and trying to rebuild with new ones. Our coaches are very experienced as well, and they will make sure we have chemistry going into the new season,” added Gray.