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COVID-19 presents unique challenges for Alden Lewis’ Memorial basketball team

Back in the weight room and on the court, the Memorial High School boys basketball team is doing its best to stay safe in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For three solid weeks beginning July 8, head basketball coach Alden Lewis said he and his athletes worked hard and made real progress. A two-week hiatus ended Monday with a return to workouts, along with the allowance of competitive drills by the University Interscholastic League.

“It’s been going good,” Lewis said. “We’ve been working hard in the gym pretty much every day grinding. UIL shut us down for two weeks, so that kind of threw a damper on us, but we’re trying to pick it back up this week, get our numbers back up and get back to work.”

Those participation numbers are a little down since the break. Lewis said more COVID-19 cases in the area are making some parents a leery of sending athletes to workouts.

“We’re following all the CDC guidelines with temperature checks, masks and everything, so we have a pretty safe environment here,” Lewis said. “We are just trying to get our numbers back up to prior to the UIL shutting us down these last two weeks, and hopefully that can happen this week and next week.”

The Titans aren’t lax in their duties, either. Lewis said the athletes are keeping their distance, sanitizing equipment, using hand sanitizer and taking temperatures while at workouts.

They’re also wearing masks at all times while indoors.

“I just try to emphasize that, and it’s just something for the kids to get used to,” Lewis said. “It gets hot, it gets kind of foggy and cloudy, but we try to emphasize that at all times.”

So far athletes have been compliant with wearing masks while working out, and while there have been a few complaints, Lewis said the team is adjusting.

“I think the kids understand what it’s going to take to actually keep this strength and conditioning stuff going that the UIL has let us do,” he said. “I think masks is the best way to help us out. But it is a difficult task. It’s not the easiest, I can tell you. It’s uncharted waters. This is the first time we’ve ever have to do this, so it’s going to take getting used to.”

While the basketball season is still months away, the summer is spent on strength and conditioning.

“This is the time where we get quicker, faster and stronger,” Lewis said. “We take advantage of the strength and conditioning program we have here at Memorial. I think it’s one of the best that I’ve been part of. We try to take advantage of strength and conditioning and get a lot of skill work. We try to get a lot of individual work in and get better and better each day.”