Letter to the Locker Room: Football 

A glimpse inside preparation for the 2020 football season

Dear Birdcage, 

My name is Hayden Lynch — I am a sophomore cornerback for the Oak Park football team. Football during COVID-19 has been an interesting experience from the eyes of a student-athlete. These experiences have not been normal by any means, but like everything with the COVID-19 pandemic, we have adapted to the circumstances. 

When we get to the field, we get our temperature taken and do a survey to ensure that we haven’t been in contact with someone with COVID-19 or have any COVID-19 symptoms. After that, we walk into our pod’s starting area.

Each pod consists of 12-14 student-athletes. Pods are, by far, the most prominent difference between practice before and during COVID-19. The small groups are difficult because you can’t interact with other coaches and you are left with just one. 

The practices mainly consist of catching balls and then doing some sort of conditioning. For the most part, this is the most similar thing to practice in pre-COVID-19 times. The conditioning mainly consists of running around the track or running the stairs of the bleachers. 

There is very little contact between the players, which is similar to what would normally happen at practice in this stage. However, there is some concern for when we get to putting on pads and actually start hitting each other. It would be extremely difficult to do tackling drills while maintaining social distancing. 

In the practices, it is pretty easy to stay socially distanced and stay six feet apart from each other. We make sure we clean the balls after someone makes a catch and we make sure we don’t interact with the other pods so if one of us were to have COVID-19, it would only have a chance to spread to one pod. 

With all of the measures to reduce the risk of one of the players spreading COVID-19, I feel like me and my teammates are safe with the system in place.

The future for these practices are a little cloudy. However, we are expected to get into pads around December and at some point we will be able to be in larger groups, which should really make the practices feel normal again. 

I am excited for the future of these practices. I hope we will be able to expand our practices and we can get into pads and make the practices feel more normal. I hope with all of the precautions we can play games this season. It might be a fruitless effort but us as student athletes are committed to bringing the best on field product we can

-Hayden Lynch, sophomore football player