Spring is a sacred time to many football coaches.
It is the time of year when seeds are planted with hopes of producing a flourishing program by the fall. It is when coaches begin searching for leaders, developing chemistry and creating cohesion.
Spring training is the first step toward a new season.
Spring, however, is also one of the state-mandated periods when schools must issue required, standardized testing, causing the potential for students’ schedules and their sanity, especially those of football players, to become stressed.
While many area coaches attempt to accommodate for the testing by working spring training around the dates, most encounter some sort of overlap. Despite the inconvenience, it seems to have little effect on the way most District 8-5A coaches conduct business.
“It really was never an issue,” said Shoemaker head coach Channon Hall, who conducted spring training from April 18 to May 17. “When it was, we just sent the kids home, so they could be rested (and) take that test because that was the most important (thing) — so those kids have got the best chance to be successful in those tests on test days.”
The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) and Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skill (TAKS) are designed to test curriculum taught in public schools. Students have a maximum of four hours to complete the tests, which assess areas including reading, writing, math, science, geography and history.
Killeen Independent School District conducted the testing April 1-4 and April 23-25.
Killeen head coach Sam Jones avoided any potential conflicts by starting his spring training after the testing period concluded.
“We just work around it in spring training,” Jones said. “It really didn’t affect us, I can’t see it. I know everybody said it would, but with what we do, you just push it back.”
Belton head coach Rodney Southern endorses a similar philosophy, choosing to start spring training later to avoid as many schedule disruptions as possible. The Tigers’ spring training began May 1 after the conclusion of Belton’s testing period.
“I like doing it that late because it is right in the heat of the spring season,” Southern said. “We finish Friday night, and we’ve got a 7-on-7 (game) Saturday morning. We’ll roll right into the three tournaments we’ll play, and by the time we finish that and finish summer conditioning, it’s time to go again.”
Pushing the start of spring training back also produces big advantages in the fall, according to Jones.
“I think you have a lot of kids that recall a lot of what you’ve done because there’s not a time lapse, not a great time lapse, from spring training to 7-on-7 to the start of two-a-days,” he said. “I think their recall is so much better because it is a little bit late.”
In the end, most area coaches simply do not have a problem with the testing schedule, but some do take issue with the sheer amount of testing students must endure.
“(Testing) takes money, it takes time, it takes away teaching time in the classroom,” Copperas Cove head coach and athletic director Jack Welch said. “I think there is too much testing of our students. … But as far as what that has to do with our football team, it really doesn’t have any bearing.”