Some Pioneers ran sprints outside on the track, some sweated out squat reps in the weight room and others pushed a sled of weight around the multi-purpose wrestling room Monday morning at Fort Calhoun High School.
All of them, though, made sure to sanitize their stations when they were done.
Student-athletes' lives aren't all the way back to normal after a spring off due to coronavirus precautions, but the Pioneers are doing their best to make up for lost time.
“Some of our kids, they're just not in the normal shape they'd be in,” said Adolph Shepardson, FCHS' new strength and conditioning, and football coach. But that doesn't mean athletes haven't been putting their best foot forward through the first five days of summer conditioning.
“After warmups, they're going hard for an hour,” Shepardson said, noting a four-days-a-week schedule through July. “We think we're going to be in really good shape and really strong here when August rolls around.”
The Pioneers are grinding toward the new school year by working through four stations each morning, which allows for social distancing but also a diverse workload. The stations incorporate mobility training, core lifts, assistance lifts and running.
“We want to get stronger in our core lifts — squat, deadlift and bench — and we're running everyday to get in shape that way,” Shepardson said.
The coach comes to Fort Calhoun from Milbank, S.D., where he was an activities director and coach.
“I wanted to get back to just concentrating on coaching and teaching,” he said. “I missed being in the classroom and being able to focus on coaching.”
After a college football career at South Dakota State, Shepardson led his high school football program back home in Sturgis, S.D., where he helped the Scoopers break a state-record long losing streak. Before Milbank, he also made a coaching stop in Deubrook, where he earned coach of the year honors from South Dakota Sportswriters Association Members after a 12-0 state championship season in 2012.
Now, though, his wife and two young children are starting a new life in Nebraska.
“This was one (job) that was very attractive just because of location, and I think this is a school with a program that's on the rise,” Shepardson said.
He wasn't sure what to expect in return after applying for a position outside of his home state, but heard back from Fort Calhoun in good time.
“I was real happy when I got an interview and I ended up getting the job,” the coach said. “I'm very excited to be here. We've got a great group of kids.”
Next fall will be Shepardson's 17th year as a head football coach. His goal is to play for championships.
“Coach (Andrew) Christensen did a great job. He's laid a great foundation,” he said of FCHS' new AD. “So, I'm really taking over the program and trying to get them over the hump to the next level.”
Though he was a wide receiver in college, Shepardson said to expect a balanced offensive attack with throwing and running. His system will be something new for opposing teams to prepare for.
“Our offensive and defensive schemes, from what I've seen on film, are different from a lot of the area teams and district teams,” he said. “So, that's going to give us an advantage.”
Ultimately, though, the rise of Fort Calhoun football will continue with workouts like Monday's.
“My hope is that we're going to be a stronger, in better shape and more physical football team than the other teams in the area,” Shepardson said. “If we can get to that point, we can win a lot of games.”
That's his goal and expectation.
“I think our style of football is going to equate well with our schedule,” the coach said. “I really think if we can stay healthy, we're going to have a spectacular year. Looking forward to it.”