The 2019-20 season ended for many area athletes in early March, around the time COVID-19 was spreading around the Houston region.
At least one area coach has seen to it that his students have no excuse for their skills and fitness to deteriorate even while hunkered down inside their homes.
“After our last practice, my (track) kids were asking me what they were going to do to (for training),” said Austin Obeng, the athletic coordinator at Frank Black Middle School. “I didn’t have the answers for them at the time, but I knew I wanted to keep them engaged and in shape. So I started creating these workouts and sending them to all of my students and their families.”
For the last six weeks, Obeng has distributed daily workout instructions to his students and their families at 9 a.m. Monday through Friday so they can stay physically active while heeding the stay-at-home order in effect for Houston and Harris County.
Each workout begins with a warm-up stretch and in-place stretching before getting into the meat of the session. Depending on the day, Obeng said subsequent workouts consist of everything from timed running intervals or sprints to weight training and other workouts which can be done at home to maintain social distancing.
Mondays are reserved for light running, while Tuesdays entail full-body circuit training and Wednesdays consist of additional running along with abdominal and core strength training. Obeng called Thursday a “tune-up” day before finishing with timed running intervals, sprints and agility work on Friday.
“Every day builds on the previous day’s workout,” he said of the method, which is not specific to a particular sport. “Their goal is to become a better athlete, so whenever they work out they’re inching closer to that goal.”
Sessions are slated to last anywhere from 30-45 minutes to simulate a typical after-school training, according to Obeng, but the intensity remains the choice of each athlete. And in addition to the physical component, Obeng said workouts also serve a collateral purpose as hundreds of student-athletes wrestle with the unknown in regards to when they’ll be able to return to practice and school.
“This gives them something that they know they’ll get every day at the same time. Then I leave it up to them with regards to how they do it throughout the day,” said Obeng, who also is Waltrip High School’s swimming coach. “It just gives them a little bit of structure during this time and helps them look toward the next goal. They can maximize this time to better themselves.”
Obeng said he will continue to use the workout program even after the pandemic passes and kids return to school, with the added bonus of being able to tailor it for each sport based on the season. And despite some personal uncertainty at the beginning of the endeavor, he said there has been a surprisingly overwhelming response over the last six weeks.
From students encouraging family members to participate in the workout to requests for ramping up intensity, it has gone beyond what he envisioned at the beginning of March.
“As coaches, our reward is from seeing the growth in our kids, seeing them take things to that next level,” Obeng said. “To see my kids buying in, believing in me and my system and seeing the results is just amazing. I know I’m helping this child build on themselves.”