Tim Perry

Wetumpka head football coach Tim Perry directs his offense during practice.

There was a wide variety of reactions from Wetumpka football players when they learned there would be a virtual workout session with the rest of the team. The coaching staff sent workouts to do from home for two weeks after the schools shut down but this was going to be a little different.

“It was kind of weird doing it for the first time,” Wetumpka sophomore Stone Minnifield said. “We want it to get natural though. We have to stay in shape so this is what we have to do.”

Wetumpka used Zoom to hold its first virtual team workout Thursday morning. Coach Tim Perry said he has created a schedule for the team to use the application’s video chat service three times a week so players can virtually workout with their teammates.

“We just wanted to try it and see how it worked,” Perry said. “We had 38 players and I was very pleased with that. We had sent out workouts over texts the previous weeks but now we are getting more oriented with this and we had our first team workout.”

The workout was not too different from what the team would be doing together in the weight room if the players were still together.

Perry said the seniors led the warmup routine then everyone went through the workout together, taking about an hour and 15 minutes.

“We hope this is something that can really take off,” Perry said. “Our goal is to create some normalcy as much as we can. I know it’s not just like it but we want to get them in a routine just like we would if we were together as a team.”

Minnifield was one of several players to have workout equipment at home but he said he saw some of his teammates getting creative with the resources they had available. Some people piled weight into a bookbag while others used cinderblocks, wood and bricks.

Because the players are getting to see each other during the workouts, the coaching staff is hoping it can partially duplicate the environment of a weight room where much the team bonding and chemistry is strengthened. Perry said it also helps with accountability within the team.

“Nothing can take the place of that but it’s the best that we can do,” Perry said. “They can see each other workout and that’s a lot more motivational than when you’re not working out by yourself. The coaches are directing you and the teammates are really pushing each other.”

Jackson Ray said the virtual workout is more beneficial than what they have done so far.

“It was weird at first but after doing it, I like it,” Ray said. “It has that team bonding we haven’t had so far. It was really everything the same just without being in the weight room.”

Ray is one of the team’s upcoming seniors and his class will have the challenge of filling in the leadership roles while being away from the rest of the team but they hope this new workout routine can help.

“This gives an opportunity to anyone to start taking on the responsibilities and take the initiative to contact their teammates,” Perry said. “You want to see that leadership develop even though we’re not here together every day. With the Zoom account, they can talk to each other face to face with some of the players in groups or individually.”

While there is still uncertainty about when football activities will resume, Wetumpka wants to be ready for whenever that time comes.

“Having that routine is important,” Minnifield said. “You don’t want to get too relaxed. You want to be ready when you get back in the sun. Everyone is sitting in the house but you can’t get relaxed. We have to stay in shape and stay ready.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.