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Lakeland football adjusting for the summer

April 28, 2020 by Brett LaBore

The Lakeland football summer program might seem a long way off, yet it is around the corner. 

With Governor Tony Evers’ latest Safer-At-Home mandate, the earliest the Lakeland football team can come together and practice is July 1.

Last summer, the Thunderbirds were able to get on the football field and play a 7-on-7 football scrimmage on June 13 against teams like Northland Pines and Rhinelander. 

Now that the spring sports have a chance to meet and possibly practice and play games, the football offseason (and other fall sports) might be delayed even further. 

There are a number of possibilities the football team can do on their own. Lakeland’s strength and conditioning coordinator Ryan Heath has helped the players set up their own workout team with the Platform app.

“We have guys hooked up with the app in the fall,” head coach Dan Barutha said. “Really the most important thing for them is that they do the workouts. It’s not asking a lot of time, four day a week plan — Monday, Tuesday heavy workouts and Thursday and Friday and off Saturday and Sunday.”

Those types of workouts are things the players can do at home, even if there are no official team practices where they can meet together in June. 

The hardest part of this situation will be the face-to-face conversations. It’s nice to have coaches speak to students in-person at school or practice and now that will be harder to do.

“It’s been harder in some aspects. It’s been harder in lack of communication face-to-face with players,” Barutha said. “Number two that makes it difficult to follow up with guys face-to-face, to see a kid during passing time and have that conversation.”

In terms of leadership training and working on leadership skills, that has not been an issue for the football team.

“Last Wednesday, (April 8) we had our first leadership Google hangout meeting and we basically summarized everything that happened last few weeks,” Barutha said.

Ultimately, it’s the relationship between players that becomes the biggest challenge during this period.

“Relationship are hard to come by, not meeting face to face,” Barutha said. “There is importance of reaching out to the guys and create relationships somehow even though we’re going through social distancing.” 

Regardless of what happens, Barutha believes football is important to bring comfort and a sense of normalcy back to the community. 

“I think it’s huge. And I wouldn’t think it’s just football,” Barutha said. “Sports bring a sense of normal society and culture. My heart hurts for all the spring athletes that don’t have the ability to compete right now.”

Right now, Barutha and the Thunderbirds are going to do what they can to have a season and have things return to normal.

“(It’s) our job to make sure we take care of each other so we have a shot to have a football season and a sports season hopefully this summer and into the fall.”

Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected].

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