By Ryan McCracken on June 11, 2021.
The Medicine Hat High School Hawks football team was out on the school’s field Thursday evening for its first spring camp session with no restrictions. Alberta entered Stage 2 of its re-opening plan on Thursday, which includes no restrictions for indoor or outdoor youth and adult sports.
Football players were used to taking part in non-contact drills in groups of eight or nine prior to Thursday where everyone was out and participating in hitting drills.
“It’s definitely going to be different,” said Logan Wells, a Grade 11 player for the Hawks. “I know we did our little bit of spring camp where it was just bags and we haven’t hit anyone in quite a while, so it’s definitely going to be different moving back to the flow of someone else, but it’s going to be fun.”
The full contact camp will last a week and head coach Quinn Skelton says he’s looking for the players to have fun, knock off the rust, get some hits in and walk away enjoying the game again.
Thursday was also the first time all the players could be around each other at once in the clubhouse, and Skelton says the atmosphere has been great.
“Just thinking about that, it gives me goosebumps knowing they get to go in there, business as usual. We’re not restricted by eight or nine at a time and shipping them in and out, so it’s business as normal and it’s pretty exciting to tell you the truth,” he said.
“I definitely feel amped to be back out here with my team, put in some work and I know everyone’s been missing each other,” said Wells. “Even just that little bit of social interaction, I know it’s definitely going to be good. I know a lot of people are ready, especially the new kids coming in who want to get their first high school experience of football.”
Tesema Veurink, Grade 11 running back, says he’s happy to be back on the field and that although they’ve been doing some workouts and other non-contact stuff, it’s nothing compared to being on the field with your teammates.
“Hopefully we’ll lock down some plays. It’s just for a week, like coach said, and just get ready for next season and win some games,” said Veurink.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a lot of sports on pause and a lot of student athletes have had little to no competition, so Wells says being back in action means a lot to him personally.
“It’s definitely bringing a little bit of joy in my life,” he said. “I know it’s been a long time since sports, and sports are my everything, but it’s definitely nice to see everyone back and everyone doing what they love and especially me, so I think it’s going to be good.”
Skelton says he knows the Hawks have to build their team in preparation of moving up a division, but he says next year they will be playing exhibition games at the higher level, while still competing in the Rangeland Football Conference.
The RFC was able to play a couple of exhibition games last year, which some players believe could give them an upper hand.
“I think it’s really going to benefit us with the progress we’ve had. It’s going to allow us to jump right back into where we left off. So, I think we’re going to have a pretty decent head start on some of the schools and it’s going to be a good season,” said Wells.