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Dead week ends, sports come back

POSTED: July 5, 2014 12:00 p.m.

The summer heat has finally ramped up a notch to what Georgians are used to, and it came at the perfect time for local athletes as the fields have been bare for a full week now.

For the last week, all GHSA and GISA schools have been on a strictly enforced Dead Week, meaning their athletes were not allowed to work either in the field, in the gym or anywhere other than on their own and strictly unsupervised.

While most sports can enjoy the break and take it for what it is, softball and football teams are still well into what may be their heaviest period of work before the season starts. 

Now that the padlocks have been taken off the fields, though, coaches and teams can get right back to work. 

Apalachee softball is jumping right back into the thick of things with three days of batting practice and workouts each week until the end of the month when starting July 28, leading up to school starting back on August 1, the Lady Wildcats will put in batting practice work every evening.

Some teams, on the other hand, are taking the rest of the summer off as well as Dead Week. Winder-Barrow softball is opting out of any further practices this summer so that the young women can focus on working with their club teams and enjoying their time with family before school gets kicked off next month. 

The Lady Doggs will also resume work on July 28.

Perhaps the people who benefit most from the Dead Week are football coaches, as it is one of the only times they can honestly take a well-deserved vacation. As most coaches will admit, coaching high school football is very nearly a year-round job. 

That being the case, high school coaches love utilizing the Dead Week as a chance to get away for a little while.

Virtually every coach in the county was on vacation this past week, with the three local football coaches especially taking some time off with family at the beach. 

“I didn’t used to like Dead Week, but it’s grown on me,” Apalachee head football coach Shane Davis said. “It used to be that we’d just get the Fourth of July as a break or the day before, and then we’d be right back to work. Now we get the whole week, and that’s nice.

“We’ll take a day or two here or there to maybe have a long weekend with some family, but if we ever schedule a long vacation, it’s during Dead Week,” Davis added. 

First-year head football coach for Winder-Barrow, Heath Webb, echoed most of Davis’ comments, proving that the two future rivals have quite a bit in common.

“I think it’s a great thing because coaches are typically workers by nature and I know in years past when there wasn’t a Dead Week, I’d continue to work this week and I’d take the Fourth of July off. Other than that, I just stayed working,” Webb reminisced. 

“I like it because it makes me take time off and it makes me spend time off with my family, and that’s one thing that’s good,” Webb noted.

Earlier in the week, Bethlehem Christian Academy’s Lance Fendley made similar comments about how he was looking forward to spending Dead Week with his family.

While most coaches are in agreement that Dead Week is a positive both for the coaching staffs and the players, Webb did have one unique viewpoint that may stand out from others. In his mind, one Dead Week may not be enough.

“I like it because I know nobody is getting an advantage on me,” Webb said of the mandatory break period. “In fact, there’s a conversation about having additional Dead Weeks, and I would be for that, too.”

Although coaches and players have enjoyed their time off one way or another, the vacation is nearly over as most everyone will be back at it Monday morning with workouts or some other form of non-contact practice.

As Webb intimated, most coaches are workers by nature. Now that the workers are coming back from time away, work is exactly the first thing on their minds.

“I think we just want to get back to work, and we’re prepared to go to camp on July 11. There are some things we need to have installed so we’re ready to go to camp on July 11 since we’re doing kind of a contact deal with helmets and shoulder pads, and there are some things we need to make sure we have ready by then,” Webb explained. “That’s probably the biggest thing for us.”

Once again highlighting the extent to which the two opposing coaches think alike, Davis offered a nearly identical philosophy on returning from Dead Week.

“We’re just going to get back to doing what we do,” Davis noted. 

Apalachee’s chief also expressed his relief that many of his multi-sport athletes would be released to focus on just football after Dead Week and that their sole attention on pigskin would be a welcome change to having players’ time and energies divided up between sports.

“That’ll be good for our guys to not be as physically or mentally taxed with their other sports going on and football,” Davis mentioned. “It’ll also be good for them to get some rest and come back to us ready to work.”

As nice as the time away was, and as much as Webb favors giving players time off, he was also ready to acknowledge the certain downsides to the mandatory rest period. Primarily, Webb was concerned that players were taking too much advantage of their rest and perhaps had not stayed in the proper condition that they had worked so hard to attain throughout June.

“I think that the one concern for me is that we’ve worked tremendously hard to get in shape,” Webb stated. “For a lot of teenage boys, if I’m there with them, they’ll work hard and be in shape.

“If I’m not there with them, then they may not. My only concern is that we work so hard to get in shape and my hope is that we don’t lose that this week,” Webb added. “We’ve encouraged the guys to work on their own and everything, and that’s really the biggest concern that we may lose something that we’ve already gained through the month of June.”

With both Webb and Davis focused on getting back to work, odds are good that anybody who lost a step during the week off will be encouraged heavily to get back up to speed at first light Monday morning.

After the July Fourth fireworks have faded and the weekend barbecues settled in the pits of players’ stomachs, fans and community members will likely spy by dawn’s early light both coaches and players putting in the hours to be ready come autumn.

After all, football season is coming.

 

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