NORFOLK, Va. - The COVID-19 global pandemic kept the Old Dominion University football team from playing a 2020 season. Head coach Ricky Rahne, who has still yet to coach his Monarchs in a game after being hired in December of 2019, is not about to let the virus put a damper on spring practice, too.
"It's all about trying to keep them safe," Rahne explained during a post-practice Zoom press conference Tuesday.
News 3 was the only local television station to attend Tuesday's spring football practice at the L.R. Hill Sports Complex. During the workout, players - despite wearing helmets and shoulder pads while on the field - were also wearing masks. Yes, masks over facemasks.
"We are trying to make sure we can maximize as many as practices as we can," Rahne said. "The kids hate them. It takes away some of their vision - especially trying to catch balls below their eyes. It also makes it harder to breathe, and those sort of things. But what I've told them is they're staying on."
"Yeah, it's definitely a pain," ODU running back Blake Watson said of the masks. "You're breathing and your breath hits you back in the face - it's definitely annoying. But it's to keep all of us safe and to allow us to be out there playing football."
"It's just good to be back out there on the field," defensive back Geronda Hall added. "So, whatever I have to do to be back out there, I'm willing to do it."
ODU is only permitted to hold 15 workouts during its spring practice period. Therefore, a COVID-19 outbreak or even a cluster could keep the Monarchs off the field.
"When, as a country, we battle through this thing and come out the other side better-off - we will take them off," Rahne said. "Then, things will seem really easy."