The Colony football_Kamden Wesley

The Colony's Kamden Wesley runs for yardage in 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t deterred athletes at The Colony from participating in summer workouts.

In fact, The Cougars are seeing record turnouts.

The Colony head football coach and boys athletic coordinator Rudy Rangel had more than 400 students – both boys and girls – show up for the first two days of summer workouts.

“We’ve never had more than 300,” he said. “I told the staff when we first got the announcement that we’ve got to make the people trust athletically. We sold the parents and the students on that belief. Never ever have I had this many kids. It’s a blessing that the community views us that way.”

The high turnout hopes to fuel The Colony football team to a playoff berth for the eighth consecutive season, albeit in what is likely to be one of the toughest districts in Class 5A Division I – District 5-5A newcomer Denton Ryan is the defending state runner-up, Frisco Lone Star was in the state semifinals, and Frisco Independence advanced to the third round.

With the global coronavirus pandemic forcing the cancellation of spring practice, The Colony is utilizing the one-hour window that it has per day during the week to work on skills. The Cougars work on offense on Monday and Wednesday and turn their attention to defense on Tuesday and Thursday. Weight lifting and conditioning sessions are held all four days. The team works on both sides of the ball Friday.

"We would have been really behind if it wasn’t for that one hour for skills,” Rangel said. “We would have been chasing our tails off. We're really excited about it."

Rangel said the return to organized football has been a welcome distraction from all of the current events that are going on in the world.

"We've talked to our athletes about what is going on with George Floyd and the protests and everything,” Rangel said. “We're just thankful that we can get in front of our kids, thankful we’re here with the kids and thankful to be with them. The blessing has been to see them, how they are doing right now with athletics and how they are doing with everything else."

But all of the player-coach interactions have been met with constant enforcement of the social distancing parameters that have been set by the University Interscholastic League.

Everything from where to park, how to check in for a session, the daily taking of body temperatures, ensuring 6 feet of social distancing, sanitizing of equipment, and constant monitoring the physical condition of the athletes – including checking for the difference between symptoms of dehydration and COVID-19 – is a subject that has been brought up numerous times in staff meetings and in Zoom meetings with parents and athletes.

Cones and pads are spread 6 feet apart and that same distance is being enforced during drills and warm-ups. In the weight room, equipment is spread out and marks have been placed on the mats to ensure there is enough space between the person who is currently working out and people waiting in line. Every piece of equipment is wiped down after each use.

“I have had some sleepless nights to make sure that our kids are protected,” Rangel said. “We're coaching them up daily. They're not used to it athletically. But [June 8] was good today. So much better today (June 9) to what it means to be separated. But they're doing a really good job."

The lifting of capacity restriction at professional stadiums in Texas from 25% to 50% by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is giving high school coaches like Rangel further optimism that high school sports will start on time.

"I have a really good feeling,” Rangel said. “Whether we have 50% capacity or 75% by then, who knows, there is going to be some high school football being played in the next few months. Whether they push back a little bit or adjust the schedule, I feel really good about it."

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