Napoleon High School holds its first football practice for 2020

August 1 is the first day schools around the Buckeye state can meet for fall sports practices
Napoleon High School holds its first football practice for the 2020 school year.
Published: Aug. 2, 2020 at 3:43 PM EDT
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NAPOLEON, Ohio (WTVG) - It is only appropriate that it is raining first thing Saturday morning for the Napoleon Wildcats first football practice seeing how it is still 2020.

“We all love playing out in the rain,” Napoleon running back Jarrett Gerdeman said. “It seems like whenever it rains we all get happy and excited so maybe its not such a bad thing.”

Excitement and structure. Those are two reoccurring themes around practice here at Charles Buckenmeyer Stadium.

When we last a team from Napoleon, its girls basketball team had just won a regional championship and COVID-19 cut its season short in the state semifinals. Head football coach Tory Strock’s daughter was on that basketball team as five months later he moves from parent to coach for a new chapter.

“As a father back in March standing outside of St. John Arena and having that shutdown I’m still not over that, I still have trouble talking about that,” Strock said. “These are moments that these kids can never have back. Its easy as adults to say, ‘Well you have to sacrifice for the greater good.’ I agree with that and understand that, but you know what, we all had those moments. To this day at 44 years old, those moments are a huge part of who I am and who I’ve become and who I’m going to be as a father, as a husband, as an educator. I just feel so strongly about the vitality of sports - not just football but sports - and what it means to kids.”

In order to do their part to have a season, Strock says enforcement it is not only on the coaching staff but his senior class as well to make sure everyone follows all of the social distance-related rules.

“It almost feels like sometimes you’re being a jerk when you have to tell them to get spaced,” Gerdeman said. “It’s all because we want to have a season. And all my teammates know it’s that no one is being mean it’s because we all want to have a season.”

The Wildcats have a reason for excitement for this season - dating back to when the class of 2021 were seventh graders - the coaching staff knew they could be a special group.

“We’re trying to balance the seriousness of the virus and what football and sports mean to kids,” Strock said. “I just hope we can find a happy marriage there.”

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