By Mark Nagi

Football practice can be a brutal exercise… but the COVID-19 pandemic has made all of us value normalcy.  So, it’s no surprise that local coaches and players are happy to simply have the chance to get together and practice the sport they all love, in whatever form possible.

Recently I had the chance to stop by some area practices to ask coaches if practice is more special these days. Here were their responses.

“Especially once everything hit there so hard and football got shut down, everybody in town missed spring ball and missed that opportunity with those kids to see who was ready to make that next step,” said Powell head coach Matt Lowe. “Being out here looks different and feels different.  There are guidelines in place and we have to make sure we are doing our part to do those guidelines but it is just great to be around the kids and watch them and their excitement as they come out here, even though things are a little different it’s great to have these kids out here and feel their energy again.”

“I thought about that a lot while we were out,” said Karns head coach Brad Taylor. “You feel terrible for those guys missing out on spring sports. But nothing is guaranteed, and that’s why you have to take advantage of every opportunity.”

“We were off for about two months and didn’t see each other,” said West head coach Lamar Brown. “The kids were really excited to see each other when we got back. We really had to enforce the social distancing at that time to get them used to that but it’s a special time and they are thrilled to be back together and pushing each other and trying to get better.”

“I think in hindsight this might actually benefit us,” said Bearden head coach Morgan Shinlever. “It lets us focus on the things that are important to us, and when you have a sport and you are teaching young kids great life lessons to let them know that nothing is guaranteed so make the most of it when you have it.”

“(It is special) mostly for the players but I even think for our coaching staff,” said CAK head coach Travis Mozingo. “You can only do so many Zoom meetings and the coaches want to be out here with the players in their positions groups and it is just a reminder about how awesome it is to be out here with the kids on a daily basis.”

“Football is a special game,” said Fulton head coach Rob Black. “I think it is special for them to be out here with us and with each other. You don’t take football for granted but in times like this, when you don’t have it, you sure do miss it.”

“It’s incredible to be back out here playing football,” said Central head coach Nick Craney. “You can see that in our kids and our staff. Everybody is ready to be back and ready to work to get back to where we need to get to.”


Mark Nagi is the author of “Decade of Dysfunction,” which takes an up-close look at all that led to Tennessee’s crazy coaching search back in 2017. The book is available on Amazon.