CHANDLER, Ariz. - Many high school football players spent their Labor Day at practice on Sept. 7, marking the first day on the field as a team in months during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This comes after the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) voted to allow practices to start up again.
Chandler High School's football team was just one of the dozens of teams that returned and the players were thrilled to be back out on the field even though it was incredibly hot and a holiday.
The players say it's worth it to be back out on the field with their teammates. “I missed being with my team,' one player said, another saying, "It is very important to us."
Players like Jeremiah Tyler and Tevai Nuineher say they've been itching to get back to playing and to have camaraderie with their teammates again.
"Just coming out on the field with the boys when we go to practice, we are serious but we still have fun," Nuineher says.
Tyler says, “It means a lot because COVID really set the tone. A lot of pros and cons but just being with the team while being safe and smart is a good thing."
Of course, there are COVID-19 safety protocols in place.
“Teams are allowed conditioning drills, tackle sleds, individual drills. Not quite there yet for one-on-one contact or contact drills. That will hopefully come soon," explained Seth Polansky, sports information coordinator.
The team's head coach explains the safety protocols in place.
“We check the kids in every day. They wear gloves, everyone has a gator," said Rick Garretson, head coach.
The AIA says there's still some concern as they're not meeting the metrics in order to play games, but they are hoping the downward trend in the state continues so they can play come Oct. 2.