Cavaliers dealing with time off

Published 11:58 am Wednesday, April 15, 2020

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It’s a different kind of spring for Pete Wiggins.

Wiggins, Callaway’s head football coach, is usually gearing up for spring practice in the middle of April, but that’s not the case this year.

With the schools closed and all sports activities suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, there will be no spring practice for Callaway, or any other football team in the state.

Callaway’s offseason strength and conditioning program has also been put on hold, and when the players will be able to get together again is still to be determined.

While the delay no doubt complicates things for the Cavaliers as they look ahead to a new season that begins in August, Wiggins fully understands why this is happening.

“With the coronavirus, and with school being out and no practice, it’s a tough time for our ballplayers and our coaches,” Wiggins said. “I think we should focus on the big picture, and that is we have to be safe, and we have to take care of ourselves, and we have to take care of our family, and our communities. We have to be smart in the things that we do, and make good decisions and make good choices in our daily lives right now.”

Just because the team can’t get together doesn’t mean everyone is idle, though, with Callaway’s coaches and players taking advantage of technology to stay in touch.

“We have communicated each week with our kids, with phone calls, and we sent out individual workout plans early on when school first let out,” Wiggins said. “I think the kids have an understanding that they have to work on their own, and they have to keep that commitment going. Also, we’ve tried to keep a weekly contact amongst our coaches with Zoom. We’re experimenting with that right now. We’re learning that process a little bit. We’ve had Zoom meetings with our players. All that is new for us. Hopefully we can continue to get better at that process.”

The Cavaliers are coming off another exceptional season under Wiggins, who has a 138-47 record in 15 seasons at Callaway. Callaway went 12-2 last season, and it lost a 39-35 heart-breaker to Brooks County in the Class AA semifinals. Over the past five seasons the Cavaliers are 57-10, and they made it to the state semifinals in 2016, 2018 and 2019.

Despite losing some key players to graduation, the Cavaliers will head into a new season with the same lofty expectations, and Wiggins is counting on the team’s veterans to provide some leadership during these challenging times.

“In talking to our rising seniors, I’ve had those types of conversations as far as being good leaders, and communicating with their teammates about what they need to do, and do the best you can in the situation you’re given,” Wiggins said. “Hopefully our kids are working hard at home, and staying focused on getting better, and then when we get back we’ll be ready to go.”

Wiggins is also Callaway’s athletics director, and he knows everyone across the sports spectrum is eager to regain a sense of normalcy, but he believes it’s important to remain patient.

“It’s tough for the kids, who have worked so hard to get to this point in their career, rather they’re a rising freshman, or a senior that’s going on to play college ball,” Wiggins said. “They put lots of time in, and people have to focus on the big picture, and that’s taking care of themselves and their families right now. In time we’ll get through this, and folks just have to be patient, and we’ll get through it in time.”

Wiggins added that “there are unknowns. People have to be smart. We have to do what the experts say, and hopefully this thing will pass, and we can be out there on the field soon.”