Tim Michael found a bit of shade as he sat in the back of a utility vehicle watching the Blue Springs South football coaches put the girls athletes through a series of practice drills Tuesday morning at a conditioning session on three fields at the high school.

“I’m thinking Matt (Klein, the second-year head football coach) might find a few players out there,” joked the South activities director, who was sporting an ear-to-ear grin. “Man, this is so great – we have over 100 girls here from all different sports and the football staff is running them in conditioning drills, and I can’t tell who’s having more fun – the girls or our coaches.”

Lauren Gillig, who was recently offered a scholarship to play basketball at the University of Central Missouri, said she’s ready to put on the pads.

“It’s so cool to see what the football guys go through, and it was fun to do workouts that are so different from what we do for basketball,” Gillig said. “It’s just fun to get back to school and see all my friends and teammates.”

There was one hitch, though.

“I want to hug them all, but I can’t,” Gillig said, “but when it’s all over I’m going get a few handshakes.”

Michael, and many members of his varsity coaching staffs, checked the girls in early Tuesday morning at a south gate leading to the football field.

“It’s funny, I’d get their permission slips, and ask them their names, and they’d say, ‘Mr. Michael, you know me,’ and I’d say, ‘It’s been three months since I’ve seen you, you have to remind me!’ And we’d get a laugh out of that,” he said.

“And we’re keeping them in the same groups throughout practices and they all had to bring their own water. We’re not sharing water or anything like that. It’s great to have them back, and we’re taking every precaution we can to keep them safe.”

On a grass practice field, east of the new soccer facility, softball coach Kristi Williams and many members of her team were working out alongside athletes from other programs.

“It was great seeing our teammates,” junior catcher Tori Bradley said, “but it was fun working out with girls from other sports. We really appreciate the school district for doing this.”

Senior outfielder McKenna Lester agreed.

“This is fun, but I want to hug everyone,” she said. “But I’m respectful. I always wear a mask when I go into a store and I never really shake anyone’s hand, but I have shaken some hands today. It’s great to be back.

“I was wondering if we would have school in the fall, so this is really encouraging.”

Williams agreed, adding, “The coaches, all the girls, everyone is having fun today. I’ve seen a few of the younger girls at some tournaments where my daughter was playing, but this is the first time I’ve seen so many of our older girls and I’m loving it.”