By Maurice Patton
In the uncertain times created by a global pandemic such as the current coronavirus, normalcy has proven to be an elusive state in our lives.
High school sports, and football in particular, can help bring it about – if only for a short period of time – according to the five Maury County coaches that spoke during the fifth annual Columbia Noon Rotary Club football coaches’ forum Thursday at the Memorial Building.
“It provides a little normalcy, gives us hope,” Columbia Central’s Jason Hoath said. “It’s something to look forward to, normalcy we all desperately need.
“I know I’ve got to remind myself sometimes, we’re going to get through this.”
Since the pandemic took hold in mid-March, routines have been upended with school students and workers being sent home and sports being paused at the professional, collegiate, high school and youth levels.
Even now, professional leagues are struggling to restart and some college conferences have opted not to do so. For some time, there was a question whether Tennessee’s high schools would return to play this fall – and even as regular-season competition is set to begin next week, there is skepticism as to whether it actually will, or if it does, how long it will go before a shutdown is forced.
“If I’ve learned anything in 2020, it’s that I can take everything I’ve learned and throw it out the window,” Spring Hill’s Ben Martin said. “Our player and coach safety is paramount, but the positive I think we’ve gotten out of this is the importance of community, that human interaction.”
As athletes saw some of their schoolmates miss their seasons a few months ago, coaches are now seeing the effect that process made on their players.
“They’re enjoying practice,” Zion Christian’s Brad Lowery said. “They’re beginning to understand – nothing is guaranteed.”
“We focus on one day at a time, getting better individually,” added Columbia Academy’s Charlie Lansdell. “We don’t worry about what we can’t control.”
All five teams are set for Aug. 21 season openers – Columbia Academy at Marshall County, Columbia Central at Spring Hill in the Backyard Bowl, Mt. Pleasant at Summertown and Zion Christian at Grace Christian. Also next week, Richland travels to Rogers (Ala.) for a Thursday contest and Summit plays at Independence in the Border Battle.
For more from each of the five coaches on the importance of high school football in the midst of the pandemic, see the attached video.
Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @mopatton_sports.