BATAVIA – When Trey Urwiler took the football field on Monday at Batavia High School for a conditioning workout, it probably didn't match the feeling of the Friday night lights.
Nonethless, it was a great feeling.
"Even just being on the field is a big deal for us," said Urwiler, a rising senior receiver and Northern Illinois recruit. "Being with each other is awesome. Although, it's just conditioning and that's not the greatest thing to do, the coaches found a way to make it fun and competitive."
The Bulldogs completed their first week of conditioning on the field within the requirements of the first phase of the IHSA's Return to Play guidelines. Phase 1 requires group gatherings of no more than 10, including coaches for conditioning sessions. Sport-specific drills and equipment cannot be done or used.
The graduation to Phase 2, which still awaits approval from the Illinois Department of Public Health and hinges on entering Phase 4 of the state's re-opening plan, come by June 26.
Batavia players arrived at 7 a.m., but couldn't leave their cars until then. From there, players lined up on spots outside a specific gate to enter the field, which are spaced six feet apart and completed a check-in process. Position groups were separated to either the the north or south end of the field.
"And then you step up and get your temperature taken, wash your hands and if you were good, you'd go on the field and then we would start our conditioning," Urwiler said.
"[The coaches are] very rule-specific," Urwiler said. "You have to follow the rules."
Conditioning work for quarterbacks, wide receivers and defensive backs began at 7:30 a.m. The groups broke into no more than 10 individuals, and began their hour-long conditioning sessions before the next wave of position groups cycle in at 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. as the day progressed.
Following the designated rules and implementing the conditioning sessions hasn't been difficult for the Bulldogs to manage through.
Batavia football on Monday tweeted that 80 varsity players began workouts with coaches.
"I generally think, for the most part, that there is a really good understanding by coaches in the athletic world of following rules, guidelines and restrictions," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "[As] a football coach, our sport has probably been more regulated, discussed and managed out in the social realm than any sport that exists right now."
"...If you're given rules to follow, kids, coaches and programs will follow the rules," Piron continued. "So, that part of it is not really very hard. You just want the rules...I don't think any of us have been too worried about the 'whys', or the 'why the No. 10 [group number]?'. We're not asking any of those questions. We're just doing what we're allowed to do and following the guidelines. That's not very hard to do."
The conditioning groups went three days last week, and expect to carry on in similar fashion next week.
"We had about, as much as you could, about full participation out of our entire football program," Piron said. "We had coaches [with] full participation."
"Parents," Piron continued, "We had a parent meeting. It was communicated very clearly by email what we were going to do and accomplish. I have had zero parent conversations or emails."
Piron said Batavia Public School District Superintendent Lisa Hichens worked "very closely" with Athletic Director Dave Andrews to help get the operation running.
"There's the mental health angle [of participating in sports] that our District is very in-tune with and [Hichens] is very in-tune with," Piron said. "From Day 1, she clearly understood the overriding value of mental health, exercise and socialization for our kids."
"And, I think that she wanted to make it possible as soon as it was [allowed]," Piron continued. "They're working extremely hard to make it happen."