Inside a day of socially distanced workouts at Chatham Charter

BY CHAPEL FOWLER, News + Record Staff
Posted 6/17/20

SILER CITY — Clint Fields sat a folding table inside Chatham Charter’s gymnasium Tuesday morning, glanced at a form below him and started rattling off questions.

“Any racing, fluttering or …

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Inside a day of socially distanced workouts at Chatham Charter

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Posted

SILER CITY — Clint Fields sat a folding table inside Chatham Charter’s gymnasium Tuesday morning, glanced at a form below him and started rattling off questions.

“Any racing, fluttering or skipping beats of heart?” he asked Trevor Golden, the senior basketball player standing in front of him.

“No,” Golden said.

“Unusual dizziness during or after exercise?”

“No.”

“Cough or shortness of breath?”

“No.”

Five questions later, Fields, the school’s athletic director, stood up and pointed a KODYEE-brand infrared thermometer to Golden’s forehead. A pause. A beep. He checked the recorded temperature, nodded and marked it down on his sheet with a red felt pen.

“OK,” he said. “You’re good.”

That’s been Fields’ routine since Monday morning, as the Knights opened their facilities to coaches and athletes for the first time since mid-March. The NCHSAA announced last week schools could start modified summer workouts June 15 with the consent of their districts. And although Chatham County’s three public high schools won’t start until July 6 and only allow fall sports to practice, Chatham Charter makes its own decisions in that regard.

Last Thursday, the school announced the workouts were a “go” for any teams interested. At Woods Charter, the county’s other charter school, athletic director Dena Floyd is waiting for approval from his school board, which will vote on the matter in a Thursday meeting, before starting up.

When the NCHSAA extended its dead period from June 1 to June 15 in late May, Fields said he started working with that latter date in mind. Once the association announced — on June 8, that schools could begin June 15 — Fields touched base with John Eldridge, Chatham Charter’s head of school.

“He asked me what I thought about opening back up,” Fields said. “I said, ‘Well, the NCHSAA says that we can start, our coaches want to start and our kids want to start — unless there’s something you feel apprehensive about.’ He said, ‘Go ahead.’”

On Tuesday, Chatham Charter’s digital entrance sign alternated between messages of “Welcome back, student-athletes!” and “Otherwise, campus is closed. Stay safe.”

Inside, a printed list of guidelines was taped to the main gym entrance and a line of ropes directed participants to Fields’ table, which sat in the back right corner.

Players’ gear — book bags, shoes and water bottles, all from home — sat against a wall of locker rooms blocked off with chairs and signs. Bathrooms were open, but a yellow cart of sanitation supplies sat nearby. Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer dispensers were aplenty.

On Monday, coach Jennifer Bridges and the girls basketball team logged its first official team activity since a Feb. 29 loss in the NCHSAA 1A playoffs. On Tuesday, players arrived at 8:30 a.m. for a second day of practice.

The team often practices at 6 a.m. on Fridays, so the early wake-up wasn’t too hard on the seven players present. But the return to conditioning was a little tougher, and senior Morgan Lineberry didn’t hesitate when asked to describe how the last two days have been.

“Hot and sweaty,” she said with a laugh.

Bridges and assistant coach Jamarr Ross set up seven individual stations, one for each player, and rotated through them a minute at a time: a box jump, an agility ladder, free throws, midrange jumpers, rebounding and layups drills.

“Usually we do it in partners,” Bridges said, “but we adapted.”

It was a little strange, senior Rebecca McGaughnea said, especially since she and Lineberry are post players and used to the physicality that comes with the position.

But “it’s been good to get back in the gym, back in routine,” she added.

After wiping down balls with Clorox wipes and mopping the floor, the girls basketball team filtered out by 9:45 a.m. Around the same time, boys basketball coach Jason Messier arrived at the gym in school-branded sweats and a ballcap.

Tuesday was the first practice of the summer for his team, and he’d be working with nine players at 10:30 a.m. Including him, that was a “pod” of 10 people, the max amount allowed for an indoor workout under Phase One guidelines.

As players shuffled into the gym, they carried a two-page initial screening document along with their Nikes and Adidases. All athletes are required to fill out the form, distributed across the state by the NCHSAA, ahead of their first day of practice.

“Every team is in the boat we’re in,” Messier told his team in a socially distanced huddle at midcourt. “But we’re behind the 8-ball in terms of what we (usually do). What have you been doing on your own? That’s what it’s going to take this year.”

The Knights are “loaded up” for next season, Messier said, with 29 regular-season games scheduled before the conference tournament and playoffs. So conditioning, already crucial, will be at even more of a premium, given their altered schedule.

“You guys need to go at game speed,” Messier said before directing the team through warm-up runs and full-court layup drills.

Later on Tuesday, volleyball coach Holley Hall led a practice from 12:30 to 2 p.m., and assistant coach Chris Callicutt held a second boys basketball session at 2:30 p.m.

With each practice came more temperature checks, screening questions and check marks, but Fields didn’t mind. As he watched the girls basketball team practice from his corner office in the gym’s mezzanine, he smiled.

“It’s great to see the kids back in the gym,” he said.

Reporter Chapel Fowler can be reached at cfowler@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @chapelfowler.

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