North Augusta, Aiken County resume workouts this week

Two North Augusta football players go through a cone race during their first week of conditioning.
Two North Augusta football players go through a cone race during their first week of conditioning.(Mike Jakucionis)
Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 5:40 PM EDT
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NORTH AUGUSTA, SC. (WRDW/WAGT) - Aiken County high school athletic programs began workouts on June 22nd. It was a later start date than a number of other programs as the county worked with each high school’s athletic director to establish a proper plan, but the first step in preparing for fall high school sports has taken place.

“All in all I’ve been really pleased. We’re only working our varsity right now because Aiken County says we can’t lift weights and we can’t go inside,” said North Augusta head football Coach Jim Bob Bryant.

SCHSL schools are limited to 10 total people at any workout facility. Aiken County supplemented those guidelines and restrictions further. Similarly to Fox Creek, the Yellow Jackets are not utilizing indoor weight rooms right now. North Augusta is also remodeling their workout facilities right now, adding an extra layer of difficulty to indoor workouts on site.

The league has also not updated or released a phase 2 of their return to sports guidelines since releasing their initial restrictions. Member schools needed district approval in addition to the SCHSL’s other restrictions before returning.

“We would have liked to have started on the 8th like other teams, but South Carolina made it a county by county decision and Aiken County decided to have everything in place before they allowed our kids to come back. They put the safety of the kids and coaches involved first and foremost which is what we’re doing with our testing and stuff here as well,” Bryant continued.

Professional, college, and high school sports are all seeing an increase in cases as sports begin to figure out how to pick back up. Iowa’s high school baseball and softball seasons have almost been serving as a role model for other states as the best practices are figured out and implemented.

At North Augusta, Bryant became head coach a few weeks prior to schools shutting down. He had about a month and a half to begin implementing his culture and vision of the team before going virtual making effort, accountability, and toughness his staples for the Yellow Jackets. Virtual meetings made implementing his vision and values easier, but it doesn’t compare to the experience of coaching in-person.

“I’m just glad that we’re able to start phase 1 in any capacity because you can’t start phase 2 until you start phase 1. So i’m excited, if nothing else, just to be back around my kids and be around football,” Bryant finished.

The SCHSL is holding an executive meeting on Thursday, June 25th. A fall sports update is on the agenda, as is a pending legal matter. The update could be the release of phase 2 guidelines. The GHSA now allows up to 50 total participants and sport specific equipment, putting SCHSL teams that play Georgia schools behind.

The second item on the agenda is a pending legal matter. Fox Creek and the other charter and private schools got their injunction approved to prevent the SCHSL from implementing an amendment that would make transfer students and late enrollers ineligible for a year.

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