A group of Grain Valley High School football players were running the steps in the bleachers, while another group was running over, through and around a group of obstacles on the football field.
A smile came to the face of Eagles football coach David Allie as he watched the early Monday morning conditioning program.
"The football gods sure smiled on us today – you couldn’t ask for better weather than this," he said.
The sky was cloudy, the wind was mild and the temperature was 73 degrees.
"This is the best day yet," defensive lineman Donovan McBride said. "This spring has been a roller-coaster ride for everyone – lots of ups and downs. We still aren’t 100 percent sure if we’re going to have a season, or even school, in the fall, but we’re enjoying these conditioning programs.
"It gives us the chance to see our coaches, teammates and friends and get in some work. The toughest thing is keeping social distancing. I just want to go up and give everyone a hug, because we hadn’t seen each other for months!"
As defensive coordinator Pete Carpino barked out, "Keep that social distancing!" And the players responded as the morning conditioning session wound down.
Allie had a few final words for his players, who then broke down the session by standing six feet apart, raising a hand in the air and shouting, "All for one!"
Allie then joined his coaching staff as the players walked out of a south gate and across a field, as construction has made entering the football field one of the toughest obstacles they face.
"It’s crazy down here with all this construction," said Allie, as the high school is adding a new parking area and an addition to the fine arts auditorium, "but no one is complaining. You come down here to these sessions and you can just feel the excitement.
"Lots of smiles – and you know they want to high-five each other, but they don’t. They’ve been great about the social distancing thing, and to be honest with you, I think they are so happy to be back with their friends, they don’t really mind that they have to stay six feet apart and maintain all the social distancing.
"I guess you can call it the new normal. We’re all looking forward to the days we can high-five, and get together like it used to be. But right now, we’re making sure all the kids are safe and we’re doing our best to keep them safe."
Allie said his entire staff is taking care of their players, mentally and physically.
"Here’s what we’re trying to do," he said, "we’re controlling the controllables. We’re checking them in, making sure they’re feeling well and keeping a safe distance apart.
"Then, our guys are controlling what they can control – their attitude, their work ethic and their enthusiasm, and to be honest with you, we didn’t think this was going to happen until the first of July, so I feel like we’re actually ahead of where we thought we would be."
Though this season isn’t a promise yet, Allie is happy to have the time with his players.
"What does the future hold? No one knows," he said. "We hope to start actual practice next week, we want to get our scrimmage in against Fort Osage – but who knows? We’re just so thankful we’ve had this time with our players. We’ll take anything we can get."
He paused for a minute, and added, "Look at all those smiles! You usually don’t see that many smiles after an early-morning conditioning session. We’re all happy to be back."