By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Editor
For 23 years Corona’s Centennial High (Calif.) Matt Logan has built one of the most accomplished high school footballs programs in the country — much less the the state of California.
The Huskies won their 53rd straight Big VIII game en route to the 2019 league title, bringing Logan’s CIF Southern Section championship count to an even 10.
It should come as no surprise that Logan took a proactive approach to the pandemic restrictions in the state of California, which require training activities to be performed outdoors.
Logan recently shared how the idea for an outdoor gym came about.
When did the idea for an outdoor gym come about?
“We were finally cleared to come back in October. After one week, they told us we couldn’t be indoors anymore. Myself, our custodian and our film guy built 10 racks. We didn’t really say anything to anybody. One day, we got there an hour early and brought the weights outside.”
What do you do if it rains?
“In Southern California, it doesn’t rain that much. We cancelled one workout because of rain. The racks are made of pressure-treated wood, so we let it go. We’ve even expanded from 10 to 16 racks.”
You said you didn’t really say anything to anybody before setting up the outdoor gym. Was this an instance of asking forgiveness rather than asking for permission?
“We knew it was OK to do activities outside and follow guidelines for social distancing. We encourage our players to wear masks. If you’re in training, you don’t have to wear a mask according to state guidelines. Some do, most don’t. After each session, our equipment is sprayed down by our custodial staff.”
How have your players responded to the new digs for strength training?
“It’s been great. The kids have been great with it. After being indoors for one week, we saw their excitement and enthusiasm for being back on campus. They were doing a lot of stuff at home or at private facilities. They dd a wide variety of things. They knew we couldn’t just sit back and take this. They needed to figure out a way to get things done. That’s why I thought, ‘Let’s make these things out of wood.’ It’s temporary, but it’s enough equipment to do squats, incline and bench. Those are the three main lifts we’ve been doing, and it gives our players an opportunity to lift heavier weights.”
What was it like to coach in California this fall while so many other states were playing games?
“It’s been difficult to watch other states play and do the things they’ve been able to do. It’s nice because what this has done — at least in our state — is connected us as a coaching community. It’s brought the whole state together. We’ve all been under the same rules, regardless of how many different sections operate with different rules. We see how our numbers are way in favor of playing and how the virus numbers have hardly been affected in other states. I’ve been told or heard that we’ll have an announcement soon. We’ll know more in a day or a week. But we’re running out of time at the same time. We have to get moving in that direction, but so far everything has been positive.”
What can you do to help your players with recruiting if you’re not playing games?
“The senior class has gone through so much. That is one of the biggest impacts we have, especially for the kid who didn’t have any offers and has gotten bigger, faster and stronger during their senior year. There’s nothing he can do. No matter what anyone says, playing the actual games is what it’s all about. That’s how you get recruited. Some other stuff might help, but it won’t help schools make a determination on a player. It’s about supply and demand. Smaller colleges get an extra year of eligibility. Junior college players get an extra year of eligibility. There’s a lot of aspects that will affect the game for years. Some colleges dropped their programs. Some college guys are looking to play elsewhere. The dynamics have changed, and the juniors and seniors take the brunt of it.”
Do you think you should be playing high school football in California?
“The statistics provided by the Golden State Coaches Association show that we’re able to prove not only that the virus is not spreading through strength and conditioning, but the mental toll that NOT playing has on players is even more dangerous.”