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Ground rules for gridiron practices in effect

Football players at area high schools such as Glenbard South and Glenbard West (pictured here) will have to follow new practice guidelines put in place by the IHSA.
Sarah Minor file photos —
Football players at area high schools such as Glenbard South and Glenbard West (pictured here) will have to follow new practice guidelines put in place by the IHSA. Sarah Minor file photos —

In an effort to provide a safer environment for the athletes, the IHSA approved a policy change in early May limiting the amount of time football teams can spend on the gridiron in the two weeks leading up to their season opener.

But for some local coaches, the new regulations aren't that much of a shock to the system.

"It's not going to be a huge change for us," said Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski. "We typically practice about two hours twice a day and now it's going to have to be one and a half hours twice a day. Some teams will do one long practice but we will continue to split ours into two practices.

"It will be the same set-up, we just have to be more efficient with our time."

Glenbard South coach Jeremy Cordell agreed.

"When I looked at the nuts and bolts of it, I thought it wasn't much of a change from what we do anyways," Cordell said. "The days of doubles and triples are kind of going by the wayside anyway. I'm fine with it. Now it is a nice neat package which is uniform and it makes sure everyone follows the same guidelines."

The change will be felt a little more at Glenbard North, where coach Ryan Wilkens said he would usually practice for two and a half hours, twice a day at the start of camp. But Wilkens, who has led the Panthers to a pair of state runner-up finishes in the past six years, is more than OK with the new schedule.

"Absolutely not," said Wilkens, when asked if he had any problems with the new policy. "Whatever is best for the game. It just means up-tempo practices and more time in the film room. We knew something was coming down because it first happened in the NFL and then the NCAA."

All three coaches were in agreement that with teams now getting 25 contact days in the summer, that period is the time when most of the football progress is done.

"Now you do so much during the summer," Cordell said. "When you get back, it is more fine tuning and just continuing what you have been doing."

Glenbard West trainer Jen Bednarek's feelings are a little mixed about the new schedule.

"It's a good concept and I get it," she said. "I like the slow progression for sure. On day one, you are not out there in full pads, I like that aspect.

"But I feel it could be overkill and might drag the day out big-time. We do a really good job making sure our kids are hydrated and our coaches do a really good job giving the kids frequent breaks in between."

One of Bednarek's concerns is what some of the kids will do during the mandatory two-hour breaks between practices and walk-throughs, especially since weight-lifting counts against practice time.

"The two-hour rest period in between is a disadvantage for the kids who don't have anywhere to go," she added. "And if they don't bring a lunch, they will have nothing to eat."

Above all else the health of the players has always been and will continue to be a focal point for coaches and trainers alike.

"We don't want anyone to get hurt, and we don't want to jeopardize the health of anybody," Wardynski said. "We've always tried our best to keep the kids healthy."

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