PLAINVILLE – Plainville football head coach Tim Shea has a new mantra for the 2020 season. Last year, when the Blue Devils won their first postseason game in school history, the battle cry was ‘Believe or leave.’ This summer, Shea is preaching ‘One day, one week, one month.’
In a time where so much of the future is uncertain due to the coronavirus outbreak, Shea is making sure Plainville remembers to take things one step at a time and keep their eyes on the present, where the Blue Devils have begun outdoor workouts, getting in three days of work a week since the team was allowed to begin meeting in person, though in small groups, on Monday.
“This is our regular summer routine besides the weight room, so we're trying to keep things as normal as possible,” Shea said. “They've already adapted quickly to the new guidelines and what we have to do. They understand we have to do these things today so we can play in the fall. We just get through today and get through this week. August is August. Let's get through July and go from there. We're not going to take it any farther ahead than that.”
The CIAC’s guidelines for the return of high school sports in Connecticut limits the size of workout groups and a number of other restrictions, but the overall goal is to start the football season on time in September. Of course, things could change between now and the end of August, hence Shea’s slogan for the upcoming season. Football players and coaches, usually mired in the comfort of routine, have been forced to adapt to a greater sense of uncertainty, though Monday’s return to the field was a welcomed sense of normalcy.
“It was great to be out there three days this week and to see the kids again,” Shea said. “Just being together right now is good, and the kids are already eager and working hard. We're just glad to be back out there doing something in person. This is kind of our normal, but I think we've all learned from this from a preparation standpoint that everything changes. Even all of the football coaches that are paranoid taskmasters that want exact dates realize that what we have today could be different tomorrow.
“We have to get it through our own heads as coaches that things could change, and if we want to play, we have to adjust. This is what we have to do to move forward.”
Shea and the Blue Devils remain optimistic that the 2020 season will happen, and that the team will have a shot to get back to the state tournament after one of the most memorable seasons in school history in 2019. But with that optimism comes the understanding that football will likely be one of the more difficult sports to bring back given how the game is played, and with some colleges already cutting games from the early part of their schedules, the outlook for football can change drastically in the next six weeks.
“That's the nature of the game,” Shea said. “The size of the teams, the close proximity, the contact and the speed, I understand all of that. The good thing is we're not playing today. That's the end of August and September. We're hoping to start on time, and that come the end of August we'll be able to play someone else. Those are things out of our control. Today, I was just able to control our time on the field. There's people way above me that will make those decisions, and we'll adapt to whatever they are.”
Plainville has been adapting since the coronavirus began leading to cancellations of spring sports, with Shea sending workouts to his players since the beginning of April, and the team was meeting virtually through the entire month of June until they were able to meet in person again on Monday. The team doesn’t know what tomorrow will bring, but if it brings a season, they’ll be ready.
“I'm lucky I have a good senior class,” Shea said. “They're motivated and accountable and are staying on top of each other. That's good that I know things were getting done. I'm still sending out body weight workouts, and for the few kids that have access to gyms and training equipment, they're getting our normal workouts. Hopefully they're at the gym right now.”
A lot can happen between now and the end of August, but Shea is making sure his group keeps its focus on the next outdoor workout, which represents a step closer to normalcy and a potential return to the gridiron on Friday nights.
“I'm optimistic,” Shea said. “The kids are all optimistic as well, and we're just following directions. Whatever happens, happens. You have to be resourceful, and I think we have been. We all want to be out there, so whatever rules we're given, if you want to play bad enough, you'll find a way to do it. We'll figure it out and make the most of our time out there.”