High school coaches in Georgia have a major dilemma this time every year – provided their teams are still playing.
Do we practice on Thanksgiving or not?
Besides the obstacle of facing premier opponents in the quarterfinals, coaches also have to decide if or how much to work on Turkey Day. Some teams go about the week like any other while others tweak it to accommodate the week.
Depending on the location of each school, academic schedules differ from district to district for the week. Some schools have classes through Tuesday, like St. Pius X, while others have the entire week off like Gwinnett and Camden Counties.
At M.L. King and Camden County, two schools that have the entire academic week off, practice schedules are adjusted. Camden County tries to keep thing as normal as possible by having weight training in the morning and practice in the afternoon just like every other week. On Thanksgiving Day, the Wildcats hold practice around 4:00 pm but open practice to friends and family who are in town and visiting for the holiday.
“It is a very low key practice, but we just get them out there to try and get the turkey out of their system,” exclaimed head coach Jeff Herron.
With a similar academic schedule, M.L. King works things a little different than the boys on the coast. The Lions still hold practice as usual for around two hours on Monday through Wednesday but during the morning hours rather than the evening. On Turkey Day, head coach Mike Carson will hold a team walkthrough in the morning before allowing his players to spend time with family and friends.
“We thought about trying to keep [practice] in the evenings to not let them eat too much on Thanksgiving Day but just decided to go ahead and go in the morning and let them have the rest of the day off to rest with their family,” stated Carson. “We will be ready Friday.”
Because St. Pius X has classes held on Monday and Tuesday, coach Paul Standard’s crew treats part of the week as they would for any other given week. On Monday and Tuesday, the Golden Lions schedule remains consistent with the rest of the season in terms of time and length because classes. Wednesday is when things start to change as Standard has players arrive at 9:00 am to watch film and has them on the field at 10:30 am to begin practice. Thanksgiving Day morning also marks a unique day for the team as a short mass is held at 7:30 am before a team breakfast and walkthrough.
Even with the altered schedules, teams feel that benefits emerge from the extra time to focus on the game. Coach Brian Way of Warner Robbins stated that by having time to prepare the team and coaching staff has more time to watch film and generate a game plan.