East Rockingham boys basketball team back on the court for modified offseason workouts

Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 9:38 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The East Rockingham boys basketball team is back on the court for modified offseason workouts amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 10 the Eagles played in one of the last big-time sporting events, prior to the virus shutting down sports around the Valley, when East Rockingham lost to eventual state champion John Marshall in the VHSL Class 2 state semifinals in front of a packed house at Spotswood High School.

On Tuesday, June 30, East Rock held its first team activities since that game. The VHSL recently approved modified out-of-season practices and schools in Rockingham County began workouts earlier this week.

“I didn’t have anything to do there for about two months so being back in the gym with my friends is awesome,” said East Rockingham senior forward Kyle Evick.

Workouts look different in 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic. Each player must have their own basketball and they are not to share or pass with anyone else. There are social distancing requirements, cleaning protocols, limits on group sizes, and coaches are to wear masks. Only four players were in a workout group led by East Rock head coach Carey Keyes Thursday afternoon at the high school.

“It’s a lot of social distancing,” said Keyes. “We are doing four different groups of about 5-8 guys. Just so that’s safe. It actually ends up being an advantage I think because kids can get more individual help from us and they don’t get lost in the shuffle. Like I said, we are trying to make this as positive as we can.”

East Rockingham is again expected to be one of the top teams in the Shenandoah Valley when the upcoming season gets underway. The Eagles are led by junior forward Tyler Nickel who is a top-100 recruit nationally and has multiple Power Five offers. East Rock went 25-3 overall in 2019-2020 after advancing to the VHSL Class 2 state championship game in 2018-2019. The goal is to again make a run at a state title in 2020-2021, but in the meantime players and coaches and working on their game in a unique, modified setting.

“It’s crazy,” said junior guard Cooper Keyes. “It is something we have obviously never done before but I mean we are going to have to get through it and we are going to have to push through.”

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