2019 Golden Apple Bowl

Ready for football – El Molino quarterback Wes Lewis (No. 18) was brought down by an Analy defender in the 2019 Golden Apple Bowl in Sebastopol. The Lions recently completed a rigorous summer training program in preparation for the upcoming season in December.  Photo Greg Clementi 

Team completes summer workouts; begins 2020 campaign in December

The COVID-19 pandemic did not deter the El Molino football team from participating in organized summer training sessions, it just challenged coaches to find more creative ways to achieve the same result. 

The Lions completed twice-a-week workouts from mid June until the end of July, gathering players in “pods” of no more than 10 students per coach in two-week rotations, with the stipulation that groups couldn’t change or rotate during those two weeks. 

In addition, the team staggered start/end times, conducted daily temperature checks, recording them for everyone in attendance (including coaches), in addition to athletes completing a daily questionnaire. 

“Hand sanitizer was all over the place and we practiced as much personal hygiene as possible, given the environment,” El Molino head coach Jerod Brown reported. “We worked out on the field and socially-distanced with masks on the entire time. Students arrived with masks on and could take them off while working out, but the coaches kept theirs on the entire time. They were all bodyweight workouts and absolutely no equipment was allowed (except for cones),” he added. 

The team completed its summer workout program on July 29 and is now in the middle of a one-month break. El Mo has adopted the use of GroupMe, a large group messaging app which allows coaches to communicate with players and provide them with bodyweight at home workouts a few times per week. 

For now, the primary focus will be on helping student/athletes readjust to the new normal in their educational journey.        

“We're allowing students time to focus on building a solid foundation for distance learning,” Brown said. “I think our entire staff recognizes that the (summer) workouts weren’t anything close to traditional, but we also know how good it has been for students' mental health to have somewhere to go twice a week. The routine has been really important for our students and has given them a bit of a sense of purpose after months in the house.” 

The announcement by the California Interscholastic Federation on July 20 effectively postponed the start of high school fall sports schedules until mid December. The decision was not a shock, and many are breathing a heavy sigh of relief that the season could be salvaged.  

“I’m encouraged about the potential for a season and I think the CIF did a great job of working with a terribly difficult situation and decision,” Brown said. “Of course, football benefits from having been designated a "fall" sport. We simply won't have to compete with most of the other highly popular sports. I think I speak for everyone involved with our program when I say that we want to do what is best for students and to provide them with as much of a normal athletics experience as possible.”

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