Gulf Coast sports teams are getting voluntary work in
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) -A few Gulf Coast State College sports teams are starting to get back into the swing of practice.
The Commodore baseball team is back on the diamond finishing out their first week together and have been working on hitting, drills, and conditioning. Teams are allowed to hold voluntary practices 8 hours a week according to NJCAA guidelines. The NJCAA also made the decision to allow teams like baseball and softball to start full practice on September 5, 2020 for 60 consecutive days.
“This is our first. We started school last week, and our guys started making their way down to the field,” said head baseball coach and Gulf Coast athletic director, Mike Kandler. “This is our first week being down here actually working out a little bit. It’s going really well. Attitudes are great. A lot of these guys haven’t been on the field in a long time, so I think they are excited to actually be back on the field. I know the coaches are really excited. It was a long break. For me personally, it’s the longest break I’ve had in 50 years from baseball, so it seemed kind of strange not to be out here. It’s good to be back.”
With the season being shut down in the spring, after only a few games, Kandler says recruiting has been different. However, they signed a few players before COVID-19 hit, and they got to get on the recruiting trail this summer.
“The recruiting has been interesting in that we weren’t allowed to go to a lot of events for a long time, but then the NJCAA lifted that, so we did get out some this summer,” said Kandler. “For us, we did get a little bit fortunate because we did have a few guys sign before COVID-19 hit. The recruiting end is okay. It’s starting to pick back up for next year, so that was okay. As far as how the team is reacting coming back in, we’ve got about a million protocols that we are trying to do. We are trying to keep them separated as much as possible. It’s not easy because at some point you have to actually practice your sport as well.”
When September 5th comes, practice for baseball will look a little different.
“Just the main thing, more time out here, a little bit longer, more structure. Right now, we are cutting drills very short. Today we have got everybody out, but we’ve been doing more small groups. September 5th, we will see more full blown, inter-squad stuff like that, and we are going to be able to put in a little more time together,” said Kandler.
Another group getting back to it is the Gulf Coast basketball team. Head coach, Phil Gaffney, says this is their second week back together, and in their time, they have been workin on teaching drills to freshman, splitting time in the weight room, conditioning, and getting the fundamentals down they would have normally worked on during the summer.
“It’s a whole new group. A lot of guys went on to college last year from the Region A Championship team,” said Gaffney. “They kind of felt cheated. They didn’t get a chance to play for a national championship. We were playing so great at the end of the year, better than probably anybody in the country, and then, not getting the chance to get a national championship or play for one. It’s a whole different group, so I think the older guys are excited to be back. I think the new guys are wide eyed and bushy tailed, and when you first go to college, you don’t really know what’s going on. You just kind of figure college out, and I think that’s what the freshmen are doing.”
Getting back into the gym was exciting for Gaffney considering the Commodores didn’t get a chance at a national title this past year.
“It was great. It was so odd last year,” said Gaffney. “We got the call, I think, the Friday before the tournament that we couldn’t go. Then, everyone had to go home. Then, we had spring break. Then, they weren’t allowed to come back, so from March all the way to August, we didn’t have kids around. It’s great. It’s great to just get back. We like being around young people, working with them, seeing them improve, seeing their performance improve, seeing them grow as young men. Really excited to be back coaching again even though it’s limited just to be around them again.”
As for recruiting, the process was far from normal for basketball as well.
“We were recruiting and fortunately for us, where the NCAA has told these guys they can’t get on the road, the NJCAA was allowed,” said Gaffney. “They did lift the ban, so we’d go to recruiting events, and the only people who would be there would be junior college guys because all the NCAA four year colleges weren’t allowed to go.We recruited the whole summer, and we actually have a good group of 21′s that we are recruiting and that we are on and have offered and we are excited about too. From now on, it’ll be different.”
The NJCAA is allowing basketball teams to start back on September 15, 2020, but Coach Gaffney says they are looking to start their 60 day window on October 12, 2020.
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