Lindsay Lady Knights Sydney Fleitman (left) and Ryleigh Jezek work on footwork drills in the first week of workouts since the coronavirus pandemic halted spring sports and workouts.

The Lindsay Knights returned to organized athletics last week to a tremendous turnout and renewed passion from the athletes.

Lindsay athletic director Jeff Smiley said it was a really good first week for several reasons.

“It’s been outstanding,” Smiley said. “We had about 125 total kids and we had about 52 girls and that was a record turnout for our girls. We’ve had around 75 boys per day, so we’re really pleased with the turnout. We knew the kids were eager to get back. I feel like this has been a gift. The kids were anxious to get back to work and we’re diving right back into it.”

The record number of athletes that showed up the first week says a lot about their commitment, according to Smiley.

“They wanted to be coached and they want to be pushed,” Smiley said. “They want to get better and they know there is only one way to do that and that’s to work and be committed to this program. We have that and I’m extremely grateful for that. It’s hard to put into words. There is just so much enthusiasm and excitement and anytime you have an eager group of kids, it makes our lives as coaches a lot better because we don’t have to push as hard.”

The Knights got back to football workouts Wednesday, June 10, after the weightlifting and conditioning portion of the workouts and Smiley said it was like they never missed a beat.

“It was great,” Smiley said. “That’s where my excitement comes from going into the season because I feel like we are at the point as a program that we can go out and run plays and line up in defenses. At any point in time, we can call a practice and have one. That showed already. It went like clockwork. Kids were communicating. It was really nice to see. We just have to be careful to not be complacent.”

Smiley said he’s been coaching for 29 years and he has never been so eager to get back to a group of kids.

“I know what athletics mean to them and not just the boys, but on the girls side as well,” Smiley said. “I know how important it is to them. It’s a huge part of their lives that was taken away. It’s not as important to them as it is to us coaches and it’s hard on us too. To have that stopped and to be able to get back, it’s a feeling of excitement to get to do what we love and that’s to be around kids.”

Getting back to the weight room was also highly anticipated, according to Smiley, who said overall, everyone was in good shape.

Smiley said he and the coaching staff aren’t trying to wear down the athletes, but they aren’t taking it easy on them either.

“We know that’s where programs are built,” Smiley said. “Our kids know that. It goes back to the enthusiasm and excitement of being back and being in the weight room. They’re all sore, but I think for once in their life all glad to be sore and happy to be sore. It means they’ve been doing some work.”

Smiley said he doesn’t want the athletes to get burned out too early into summer workouts.

“We’ll start to increase that as we get closer and I think part of it has to do with where we are at in our program,” Smiley said. “If I was a new coach trying to install a program, we would put more emphasis on sports-specific stuff. Right now, I want them eager. I want them eager going into two-a-days and I feel like we’re doing what is best for us right now.”

With the University Interscholastic League sending out a long list of health recommendations, Smiley said instituting them was relatively painless.

“We’re trying to follow the protocol as best we can,” Smiley said. “It has gone well. The kids have taken to it. It’s just something you have to do. We’re not going to make a big deal out of it, but we’re trying to disinfect things. I think we’ll see more of the restrictions ease as we get into July.”

The goal for the next few weeks of workouts is the same as it is during football season and every other sport.

“We are just trying to get better every day,” Smiley said. “If we can get a little bit better each day, by the time October rolls around, we’re pretty good. I believe that. You don’t want to look too far ahead. It’s a process and you can’t get impatient. You just focus on the day and try to be as good as you can be that day. You don’t have to get a lot better, you just have to get a little bit better.”

Patrick Hayslip can be reached at or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip

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