Minnesota high school athletes hadn’t met with coaches and teammates for team activities since the Minnesota State High School League shut down all sports back in March but things are starting to percolate now.

The summer coaching waiver period got pushed back to June 15 this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and even when it started, teams remained limited in what they could do. That all changed when Gov. Tim Walz eased restrictions on youth sports to allow games or scrimmages to resume outdoors June 24 and indoor activities to begin July 1. Since then athletes have gotten a sense of normalcy back.

Waseca football players returned to the field three weeks ago with practices on Tuesdays. Players maintain social distancing but work on drills to help prepare them for a possible fall season.

All athletes, along with parents or guardians, must sign an assumption of risk and waiver of liability relating to COVID-19 prior to participating.

The Bluejays football team is working on installing a new defense and broke groups down by position for instruction.

“We’re changing our front a little bit defensively from what we have been doing, going from an even to an odd front,” Waseca head coach Brad Wendland said.

The change comes in part due to the personnel the Bluejays have returning and it’s a chance to give opposing offenses a different look.

The team, which missed out on its annual team camp trip due to COVID-19 restrictions, will continue to practice on Tuesdays until the Bluejay Blitz begins Aug. 3.

“For that one, we’ll be able to put on pads,” Wendland said. “By that time it’ll be legal to scrimmage other schools. I don’t know that we’ll do that. Our No. 1 priority is keeping the kids safe.”

Waseca has advanced to the state tournament the previous two years. Last year ended with a 31-21 loss to Jackson County Central in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A tournament. The previous season saw the Bluejays fall in the Class 3A semifinals against St. Paul Academy/Minnehaha Academy/Blake 23-15.

“We feel like we’ve got a lot of good skill kids,” Wendland said. “That’s going to kind of be the strength of our team. We need to develop some guys up front. Our strength and conditioning program is very, very important for that, to make that happen. We’ve got some guys who are working hard.”

The weight room is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays for all sports at 6:30 a.m., 7:45 a.m., 9 a.m., 10:15 a.m., 4:45 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Reach Sports Editor Nick Gerhardt at 507-835-5447 or follow him on Twitter @WCNSports. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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