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Small Steps: Stamps coaches back in their element

The boys are back.

In small, socially distanced groups, that is.

The Stampeders were given permission on June 1 by the Alberta government to return to McMahon Stadium for training while adhering to certain safety restrictions.

“It was just great to get back into the building with the guys, I missed them all,” said Strength and Conditioning coordinator Keenan MacDougall.

“Now it’s just getting back into the swing of things, making sure that we’re getting them back to training safely. Sometimes after a big break like this, guys feel like they have to make up for lost time, so they get a little bit over-zealous and come back and do way too much, way too soon and that’s when injuries happen.”

Under Phase 2 of the governments re-launch plan, there are numerous restrictions in place to help maintain the health and safety of all those involved in the workouts.

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These include participating in smaller groups, registering with the head trainer to get their health checks, washing hands, and maintaining social distancing, among other things.

“We’re doing temperature checks, signing in and out, and daily questionnaires as far as symptoms for the players,” said MacDougall. “I thought it would be more of an annoyance than it is, but it’s really not a big deal, it only takes 30 seconds per guy on the way in.

“These logistical constraints that we face right now are more that the social distancing prevents us from doing a lot of actual football drills. We can’t even throw a football right now. Those are the biggest limitations for us at the moment, but there’s still plenty we can accomplish. We just have to get creative as far as exercise choices with the equipment that we have available and limit the sharing of equipment.”

Prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, MacDougall and the players had been hard at work preparing for the 2020 season.

Since then, overseeing the training for players all over North America has been his main focus.

“We had a really good crew and we were getting into a nice routine up until things got shut down in mid-March,” explained MacDougall. “Guys have been on their own since then, so we lent out all of the equipment from the Stamps locker- room so that guys could continue training from their homes.
“It’s always tough training remotely. From my end, I can provide a plan for them, but it’s tough to ensure that everyone is training well throughout the process.

“You’ve got to have some trust in the guys to be accountable on their own. I’m in contact with them, but it’s not a daily thing. I’ve seen other coaches do Zoom meetings and have basement workouts, but that wasn’t feasible with our group, so I’ve just had to trust that they’re doing the right thing.”