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Faith student-athletes still have title dreams in 2020

Faith Academy of Marble Falls boys track

The 2020 Faith Academy of Marble Falls boys' track-and-field team includes Case Coleman (left), Cody Owens, Grayson Poage, assistant coach Zakk Revelle, Tyler Kwan, Augustus Henry, Ben Martin, Brendan Thames, and head coach Steve McCannon. Courtesy photo

With the COVID-19 pandemic halting school athletic competitions and practices, Faith Academy of Marble Falls student-athletes are working to stay in shape and on top of their game without the benefit of in-person coaching.

The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, the governing body of extracurricular activities in private schools, stated that the earliest practices and contests could resume would be May 4.

That affects baseball, softball, golf, tennis, and track and field.

While the stoppage is for all of the squads, the tennis and track teams were in the race for state titles, noted athletic director Steve McCannon.

The girls tennis team was focused on winning its third consecutive state title, while the boys track team was trying to improve on its 2019 state runner-up finish.

The Lady Flames tennis squad has several seniors: Karson Cain, Bailey Freeman, Christian Glosson, Nikki Salinas, Allison Stallard, and Christian Wilcox. Colby Offut is the lone senior on the Flames tennis team.

The good news, McCannon said, is that TAPPS intends to crown state champions in spring sports. The challenge, he noted, is TAPPS officials haven’t outlined how teams will qualify for state meets and tournaments because no one knows how long stay-at-home orders will be in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Another issue is that some TAPPS schools, particularly in areas considered COVID-19 hotspots such as Houston, have shifted all classes online and canceled athletic seasons for the remainder of year. The loss of those schools could shift the makeup of state-qualifying meets and tournaments as well as state finals.

Despite the unknown, Faith coaches are trying to help their student-athletes by texting workouts to them each day. McCannon, who is also the Faith track coach, said his staff is emphasizing that student-athletes practice social distancing standards when they work out.

He noted that runners can mark off distances on their streets at home and those throwing the shot put and discus might be able to practice in an open field. However, high jumpers, pole vaulters, and long jumpers aren’t doing more than working on their approaches since Faith’s practice facilities are closed.

“We’re trying to work it out where we can be safe,” McCannon said.

Head tennis coach Michelle Stallard said she is encouraging her players to practice on their own, adding that some are battling through minor injuries.

“So the rest has been good for them,” she said. “A few of the players are in track, so I’m sure they’re getting some conditioning.”

Stallard said her players still believe they’ll be able to get that third state title.

“We are hoping for the best, that we’ll be able to play,” she said. “They are all playing well and ready to compete if we get the chance to play. Being seniors also gives them the edge in experience.”

Like most athletic department officials across the state, McCannon said the priority is maintaining personal health. Coaches and athletes look forward to returning to playing fields when the stay-home order is lifted. That’s especially important for the seniors, most of whom won’t play college sports.

“As a school, we have to be flexible,” he said.