Entering his 27th year of coaching, his 13th at the helm of a boys basketball program, Jeremy Albright isn’t in all too unfamiliar territory, despite some new surroundings.
Albright took over for Randy Thielges as the Royalton boys basketball coach, after previously coaching for fellow Section 6AA team, Rush City.
“I’m lucky in the fact that I’m not just a guy out of college, I’ve been coaching for 27 years and 13 years as head coach in a different school district,” Albright said. “Having that experience, you don’t have to worry about those hiccups as much, and I can just focus on those COVID hiccups.”
However, the Royalton gymnasium may be new, but the community is still same for Albright, who graduated from Royalton High School in 1993, and coached there in college as well.
“Coach Snyder was my head coach, and Coach Thielges was my JV coach when I played basketball here, and those were the last two head coaches here, and were very good coaches,” Albright said.
Albright is currently teaching sixth grade in Foley, while his wife remains teaching in Rush City, but hopes they will both be able to secure teaching positions within the Royalton School District next year.
Practice for the Royals and the rest of the high school sports world in Minnesota, began Monday, and it hasn’t been without its challenges, but all in all, Albright says it has actually gone pretty smooth.
“As far as the masks go, the kids are doing a really good job of keeping them on, and it’s day three,” Albright said. “I do worry if a kid’s got asthma or something like that, but we are making accommodations for that. If you have to take a break from the mask, go off into a corner away from everybody else, or go out in the hall and take it off, and get a breath, they can.”
Athletes are broken up into pods, so that if someone does happen to get infected, the entire team will not be affected.
Albright is excited for the squad this season.
“We have a pretty good senior group,” Albright said. “From watching some film, and seeing them a little bit in open gym, the guys know how to play, and know where to be,” Albright said. “We also have some good younger kids too, and everybody has been eager to learn a new system, new terminology, new drills.
In fact, Royalton has six seniors, all with some varsity experience, including: Tristan Pekula, Grayson Suska, Zack Cekalla, Brady Brezinka, Jordan Petron and Jacob Wagner.
While fans aren’t allowed to spectate at least to start the season, which opens for Royalton with a home game against Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, Friday, Albright asks them to hang in there, and continue to support the Royals.
“To the fans of Royalton, I don’t know what’s going to happen as far as spectators go and if you can come watch a game or not, but just know that if you’re not able to, you can watch us online,” Albright said. “The kids will work hard, they will play hard and we’ll be a fun team to watch, and I’m looking forward to being part of Royalton basketball again, and for many years to come.”
“If we keep focus on the main thing, and that is to get these boys the opportunity to play, then we’re good,” Albright said.