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It’s happening: Collier County public high school athletes will resume workouts next week.

After private schools in Lee and Collier County started to conduct practices in late May and earlier this month, Collier public schools will allow athletic programs to resume Monday. Lee County public schools have not set a return date.

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Lely football coach J.J. Everage said practices will be following national high school and CDC guidelines on social distancing.

Phase 1 will be conducted outside and run from June 15 to June 27. During that time, no equipment can be used. Athletes are required to be 6 feet apart, working in groups of nine, accompanied by one coach. 

“It's going to be very tedious but at least we're back doing something as a team,” Everage said. “The district is taking every precaution so that parents and players feel safe.”

During the second week of Phase 1, workouts are permitted to go from 60 minutes to 90 minutes, according to Barron Collier Athletic Director Ken Andiorio. Teams can use cones, jump ropes, and medicine balls, but all will have to be sanitized thoroughly.

"It's a fluid battlefield," Andiorio said. "As the situation changes, things change for us. But we have a plan. If things change, you just have to overcome."

The workouts are voluntary, so if players don’t feel comfortable, they do not have to participate.

“We can only work out for 60 minutes or less at a specific time of day and can only have four workouts per week,” Everage added. “Players have to bring their own water bottle, towel etc...”

“We have to monitor every player and coach on a daily basis.”

Phase 2 is scheduled to run from June 29-July 25.

In Phase 2, athletes are able to touch a ball, but another athlete cannot touch that same ball. That means quarterbacks will only be able to throw into a net, and not receivers. Basketball players will have to settle with individual work, primarily working on shooting at their own individual basket.

Contact with players will not be permitted, and tackling dummies as well as sleds cannot be shared with other players, Andiorio said.

In terms of practices during Phase 2, schools can hold practices up to two hours, but one hour has to be in the weight room and one hour has to come outside of the weight rooms.

"Safety for the student-athletes and the coaches is the most important thing," Andiorio added.

It isn't clear whether or not basketball and volleyball players would be permitted inside a gym. In the guidelines, it does say that gymnasiums will be open though.

"If football players can lift weights in the weight room, I don't see why volleyball players can't spike a ball inside against the wall," Andiorio said.

Golden Gate head football coach Nick Bigica and his players have been itching to return to the field to prep for the 2020 season. Starting Monday, they'll be able to do just that — in a modified setting. 

"I totally agree with the parameters set by our district," Bigica said. "The first priority needs to be the safety of our student-athletes and coaches. It will be a learning process for everyone, but at least we get to start having a sense of normalcy for our kids and coaches. That being said, I'm really excited to just see our kids again. We haven't been able to see them in person since March.

"I know they are so excited to get back to work. We are all really looking forward to it."

Barron Collier head football coach Mark Jackson is relieved to finally get back to practice after a long layoff, especially when he has to fill specific positions, most notably at quarterback and running back. Jackson also had 15 seniors graduate last season.

“Football has some pretty strict guidelines this year,” Jackson said. “It’s well worth it to get the guys back together and start working. We’re about two months behind where we normally are. The kids that have reached out seem excited and ready to go.

“It’s going to be a little different and challenging, but it’ll be fun. Just getting them back out together, running around will be a big step in the right direction.”

With less than a week to go until practices, Everage offered one final word before his team gives it a go next Monday.

"I'm excited to get back with my coaches and players. You don't know what you've got until it's gone."

Connect with Naples Daily News Sports Writer Alex Martin: amartin@gannett.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @NP_AlexMartin. For the best sports coverage in Southwest Florida, follow @newspresssports or @ndnprepzone on Instagram.

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