Rock Hill’s first strength and conditioning camps are underway

Peyton Jefferson,
The Prosper Press
Rock Hill High School Coach Robbie Gordon, center, leads student-athletes in movement drills June 25 on the field at Hayes Middle School, where the high school's strength and conditioning camp is being held.

Early last month, Rock Hill High School began its first-ever summer strength and conditioning camp.

The camp has produced a high turnout rate of roughly 150-200 student-athletes per session.

However, in the wake of COVID-19, several changes have been made for safety and health reasons.

Rock Hill’s camp has been open for three weeks, with sessions running Monday through Friday, with a set end date of July 31. (The camps are off this week.)

The camp features three sessions. From 7:30-9:30 a.m., juniors and seniors train in what is considered the high-intensity camp. Freshman and sophomores practice from 10 a.m. to noon while seventh and eighth graders do a more fundamentals-based workout from 12:10-2:10 p.m.

“Our strength and conditioning camp is programmed and designed for all athletes, male and female,” Coach Mark Humble, campus athletic coordinator and head football coach for Rock Hill High School, said.

“Our overall goal for our strength and conditioning camp, for the months of June and July and all of summer in the future, is to develop better athletes running-wise, speed-wise, agility-wise and strength-wise. That is the way our strength and conditioning is programmed is to develop the overall better athlete, regardless of the sport.”

Going into this summer, there were concerns and doubts whether the school would be able to host a camp given the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think everyone across the state and across the country is concerned about the health and safety of our kids, and of our population,” Humble said.

“The UIL has done a tremendous job, and I think our leadership in Prosper ISD, with Dr. Drew Watkins, Dr. Greg Bradley, Dr. Holly Ferguson and Coach Valerie Little, our athletic director, have done a wonderful job of setting up and allowing us to have a strength and conditioning camp this summer.

“Coaches have gone above and beyond to be overly cautious with safety guidelines,” he said. “Our goal has been the safety of our kids and the health of our kids, number one.”

The camp has instituted new check-in and social distancing procedures for safety and health measures.

Upon check in, before getting out of the car, all student-athletes must complete a daily health survey that asks, among other things, five health questions. Then their temperature is taken and recorded.

If participants fail to meet any of the health requirements, they are not allowed to get out of the car.

“Number two is coming into the facility,” Humble said. “No matter who you are, they sanitize their hands when they come in. Then, social distancing is the biggest thing. When we are inactive, we are keeping 6 feet of space between us. Then, when we go into any running or lifting phase, we are working that 10-foot social distancing precaution.

“There have been a lot of things that we've instituted ... just to keep our kids safe,” Humble continued. “Our district and our staff have been overly cautious. We have gone above and beyond the normal safety guidelines. We will continue to follow those, and if something has to change to make the environment or our workouts safer, then we will [change it]”

Similar to what its format would be during a normal summer, the camp has no contact exercises. Rather, it focuses on individual athletes’ speed and agility, conditioning and strength training.

According to Humble, the student-athletes “have done a phenomenal job adjusting to the safety guidelines.

“It has been really different,” he said, “especially when we talk about social distancing. For example, having to keep space in lines and warm ups, a spotter [for lifting] having to cover his face with a mask, and only certain numbers being allowed to be in the weight room at a time.

“It has been very different. But, our goal has been safety, so it has been well worth it to follow those safety guidelines.”

Despite the changes, Humble advocates that any work is better than no work.

“When we're talking about strength, speed and agility of the kids and getting ready for sports, a lot of them would go three months without doing anything high intensity or weight lifting,” he said.

“It has been a blessing to be able to work with our kids. It has been a blessing to have these three weeks to get them ready for the fall. Any work has been better than no work at all, even with all the safety precautions and guidelines.”

In the end, Humble said. “The ultimate goal is for our athletes to get a little bit better every day.”

Coach Stephanie Shaw, center, leads Rock Hill High School student-athletes in a mobility station staged June 25 as part of its strength and conditioning camp on the campus of Hayes Middle School. [Mark Humble / Courtesy photo]