With rules and regulations constantly changing in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Andover Football has worked to adapt and overcome a myriad of difficulties. Social distancing guidelines have significantly affected the team’s training regimen, as players are not allowed to tackle or participate in scrimmages.
Recognizing the challenges brought forth by the pandemic, Head Coach Trey Brown ’12 has adapted his coaching and practices to accommodate the circumstances.
“We took the conservative approach, which is awesome––I think that it’s the right way to go. However, it does make coaching a bit harder, but this is what we do, so we have to get creative, do fun drills, make it competition––kids love competition, they thrive off of it,” said Coach Brown.
Without interscholastic games to train for, Coach Brown realizes the importance of keeping a high intensity in practice to keep athletes engaged.
Coach Brown said, “We have more music at practice just to get guys pumped up, doing a lot of quick work, but it’s been tough for sure… [We’ve just been working on] making things fun and having everyone cheer on each other.”
According to Tommy Savino ’21, the team has spent lots of time in the fitness center to maintain durability and to work out as a group.
“Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday we’re in the weight-room, so kids are able to lift, we do a lot of cardio in the weight room to keep up muscle mass, gain weight, stay in shape. On Mondays and Wednesdays, Coach [Christopher] Collins comes and works us through some conditioning drills. That helps us make sure that our footwork is good [and make] sure that we’re still in football shape,” said Savino.
Since many students have stayed home for remote learning during the fall term, Coach Brown has made sure to engage and connect with all the remote players to incorporate them into the team.
“We have Zoom sessions for 45 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I don’t just invite the remote kids, it’s everyone. All the remote kids plus all the kids that are here on-campus that we have practice with, and keeping them involved, it’s not just always about football, we’ve talked about our core values, talking about families, talking about sportsmanship, and just getting better and [being] non sibi,” said Coach Brown.
According to Savino, these Zoom calls have been a way for lowerclassmen to learn more about the team’s style of play, rather than focusing on individual improvement.
Savino said, “They’re able to see what our offense looks like in a game situation, defense, and special teams as well. It’s more just mental rather than physical so you just have to make sure that you’re in that mental space, especially for the remote.”
With all the uncertainty that this season has brought, the Seniors have stepped up to help guide the rest of the team, according to Coach Brown.
“They’re like really small coaches that I lean on to pick up their underclassmen and I lean on them, and I hold them to a higher standard than some of my ninth graders who are new to the program. Just making sure that they know they’re a vital part to our program, but also making sure that we give them what they need if they wanna play college football, but also just to have fun at practice,” said Coach Brown.
As a graduating Senior, Savino is disappointed that he will not be able to compete, but he hopes to help lead the younger teammates to a better season next year.
Savino said, “Although me and a few other Seniors will probably never play football competitively again, what we’re really focused on is really making sure that those other younger kids are able to carry on the legacy of the Andover Football tradition, so that down the road we can continue to have a solid team, and continue to compete a competitive level.”