WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Lakota West girls basketball coach Andy Fishman set his alarm for 5 a.m. Tuesday and couldn't wait to arrive at school.
"I was like a kid in a candy store the first day of Hanukkah -- that's the way it should feel," Fishman said.
Lakota West High School held individual skills and physical training workouts for football and girls basketball Tuesday morning as Ohio continues its reopening plan during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Boys soccer, boys basketball and marching band are also scheduled to begin this week at the Greater Miami Conference school.
Tuesday marked the first time school facilities could officially open to student-athletes since Ohio Gov. Mike DeWineclosed schools March 17.
"It's like Christmas," Lakota West football coach Tom Bolden said. "I struggled to sleep a little bit last night. I'm really, really excited to be back."
Lakota West took advantage of the first contact day Tuesday morning after the Ohio governor's office and the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced May 21 it would allow school facilities to open during the COVID-19 pandemic at the discretion of the respective school districts.
The OHSAA lifted its no-contact period Tuesday, and additional area schools are expected to hold instruction for student-athletes the remainder of this week.
The OHSAA sent a memo May 22 regarding guidance and recommendations from the state high school athletics governing body and National Federation of State High School Associations regarding school-sanctioned sports training.
Lakota West athletic director Scott Kaufman said the Firebirds prepared for a month for the ability to have workouts like Tuesday. He said the workflow regarding social distancing and other health protocols went well.
"It's a new first," Kaufman said. "It's good to see kids again. Do our part and hopefully they continue that when they get home and we can just keep rolling."
The Lakota West girls basketball team was the first group to work out; they started at 7 a.m. Tuesday with a dozen players in attendance.
"I think our girls were excited to have purpose in their day," Fishman said.
The girls basketball team had three stations of basketball skills coordinated in the main gymnasium. The Firebirds worked on ball-handling and shooting, along with a 45-minute workout with strength and conditioning coach Izak Tanner.
Fishman said the assistant girls basketball coaches also stepped up in a significant way to help Tuesday morning.
"It was really good to just get the girls back together," Fishman said. "Even though they were six feet apart it still, I think, was far more engaging for them and for us than everything else we had been doing."
The football team was able to utilize its weight room, an outside area, the upper gymnasium and auxiliary gym. It split the workout into offense and defense.
Wellness checks, including temperature readings and a series of questions, greeted the student-athletes upon arrival. Lines were painted in the grass near the school building for social distancing purposes.
"We have plenty of room for these kids to work," Bolden said. "Cleaning in between and all that and as we're going and all that kind of stuff. I think we have a good model here going."
Bolden was encouraged by the ability of the players to get back in the weight room and take the first step in preparing for a season. But he was most pleased to simply see the student-athletes Tuesday.
"This has been a long time coming," he said.