Tennessee football: Training hard through COVID-19 paid off

There is no denying the negative impact COVID-19 has on the world. Right now, life is foreign to many of us, especially if you are a sports fan. Luckily, after many months of being deprived of sports, we finally are back to watching what we love, college football, but, more specifically, Tennessee football.

Now it was not an easy task to get sports up and running again. Like most college teams, the Tennessee Volunteers experienced highs and lows getting to the 2020 football season.

In March, students around the nation were told to pack their bags and head home due to the rapid increase of coronavirus cases in the United States. Spring football was canceled, leaving many players without facilities or resources to train.

For a handful of Volunteers players, they made do with what was availed to them.

Senior kicker Brent Cimaglia didn’t have a football field or a training facility, but what he did have was a football and a ditch. Yes, a ditch.

“I didn’t have a field to kick on when I went back home. I was kicking, basically in a ditch in an open field, and I was kicking toward the light post,” Cimaglia said to reporters on a Zoom call last month.

The unusual football training experience humbled the Florida native during the quarantine.

“That time home and that time sitting in a ditch brought me back to my roots. It made football fun again.”

Other Tennessee players also didn’t let COVID-19 stop them from training. Some players even worked out together during the months of quarantine.

A local training facility, D1 Training in Harden Valley, was home to several Volunteer football players. Trey Smith, Jarret Guarantano and Cade Mays were among some of the players seen training in the local facility.

After many weeks of ‘making it work,’ the Tennessee football started its fall practices. Unfortunately the team had setbacks as a result of players contracting the virus or contact tracing. Head coach Jeremy Pruitt still practiced with the limited available players. No practice was the same as mostly since players were in and out of quarantine often.

Fast forward to the current day. The Volunteers are 2-0 on the season, advancing their winning streak to eight games. The team looks stronger and better than it has in past years. Is it because of the dedication the players and coaches put in during quarantine and fall practice? I don’t have all the answers, but I am sure the extra work on and off the field helped the team get to where it is now.