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Monticello starts summer practices with protocol

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Monticello sport teams have decided to start practice this week with the permission of Governor Tim Walz and by following guidelines.

The basketball and dance teams took to the Monticello field house and the middle school gymnasium on Tuesday and Thursday to put in work and reunite with their teammates. The high school baseball and girls soccer teams also held workouts last week.

Through guidance from the Minnesota State High School League, Activities Director Gary Revenig, and Monticello Community Education, the boys and girls basketball teams had these rules to follow.

Players are required to enter the building on the west side and exit through the east side of the school.

They have to enter the gym and answer a 10 question survey each day.

Coaches assign a player a court and that player has to stay on that court for the entire practice in order to monitor where they are in case someone would report having COVID-19.

Only 10 people are allowed on one court at a time or nine players and one coach. Once a coach takes a court, that coach can not leave that court either.

Coaches also handed out a basketball to each athlete for the summer. Each player brings their own water bottle to use so they are not using drinking fountains or bathrooms.

Girls basketball head coach Craig Geyen is following the rules to ensure the safety of his team and giving everyone the option to stay home if they’re unsure about the practices.

“We keep players six feet apart,” Geyen said. “No contact drills or diving on the ground. If players and families do not feel comfortable sending their daughter, we have them stay home. If they show any signs or symptoms we have them stay home as well.”

Head boys basketballcoach Bridge Tusler was looking to follow procedures of authority to keep his team safe from the still progressing virus.

“I am indifferent about how I feel towards the start date of practice,” Coach Tusler said. “I am ignorant in my understanding of COVID and how to handle it. What I do know is this, we have vaccines and medicine to help us with all sorts of diseases. This allows us to feel safe and almost untouched at times. This is different because we don’t have a full understanding of it.”

Never the less, both teams were happy to be on the court after not being in contact with their teammates for so long.

Geyen said the girls were all energy on their first practice on Tuesday, June 23.

“There is a lot of excitement and energy in the gym,” Geyen said. “It is hard in some regards not to compete and go 1 on 1, 2 on 2, 3 on 3 and so on but they are adjusting. Many of the girls have commented how excited they are to be in the gym and hoping they will be able to do more in the near future.”

Incoming senior Morgynn Spears was ready to lead her team and has been missing sports since her lacrosse season was canceled.

“I was super excited to get back in the gym,” Spears said. “It was kind of weird to get back into the flow of things because I haven’t gotten to play any sort of sports since last winter.”

Tusler said the boys were simply ready to compete again.

“They just want to play,” Tusler said. “As a player, hoops was a way out. It was a great period of time where nothing else mattered. The boys want to play. Regardless of what is going on. I can’t expect them to completely understand everything that is impacting their world.”

Over at the Monticello Middle School, head dance coach Tija Balsimo was putting her dancers safety at the top of her priority list.

They’re also having practice two days a week and following guidelines from Brendan LaBau over at Community Ed. He wants to be sure that all athletes and coaches are being safe.

“All of our procedures are based on MDH, CDC and MN State HS league guidelines,” LaBau said. “Our guidelines are adjusted as new recommendations come out as well.”

“It’s amazing,” Coach Balsimo said. “We all missed our passion and we all missed being together so I’m glad we’re back.”

The dancers had similar procedures to the basketball team, but the dancers had X’s marking their spots on the court where they could stand and spots to put their bags and water bottles.

The also had to check temperatures before coming into the gym.

There were 26 dancers on two and a half basketball courts and they were required to social distance the whole practice.

Senior Rachel Dahlke spoke for her whole team.

“It’s so much fun to be back laughing and dancing with these girls,” Dahlke said. “It feels weird, but right.”

As of now neither the basketball teams, baseball, girls soccer or the dance team has competitions coming up any time soon, but they will continue to practice twice a week in hopes of sports fully returning.

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