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This has been a frustrating summer for student-athletes across the country as they're left with more questions than answers about when they'll get to play the sports they love because of the coronavirus pandemic. Student-athletes from Sumter School District are definitely familiar with that frustration, as they're still left wondering when they'll be allowed to even begin summer workouts.
Even though the South Carolina High School League has allowed Phase 1 workouts of weightlifting and conditions while following strict guidelines since early in June, local athletes at the Sumter School District highs schools of Lakewood, Sumter and Crestwood have not been allowed to do the drills. They are now trying to get the attention of the district's administration.
Sumter wide receiver Marcus Lane said players from all three schools started talking this week about ways they could have their voices heard, and they eventually decided to host a workout at Dillion Park on Thursday.
"On Sunday, Jayleal Fuller from Lakewood hit me up asking if I knew anything," Lane said. "I said no and he said that's what Crestwood is saying too. It's basically like we're in the blindside. Everyone is trying to go to private schools because they know what's going on. He texted me Monday night and said we should start a group chat and when we post, we post that we want to play.
"We came back in and he was like, 'I got an idea.' I told him I'd already thought of it and said we should have a workout and we condition together and we social distance properly."
So that's what Lane and his fellow Sumter School District athletes plan on doing. Lane, Fuller and Crestwood's Derrick Prince are leading a group of players from all three schools, which will all gather to work out at 10 a.m. at Dillion Park. As of Tuesday afternoon, Lane said he expects about 35 players to come out and work out as safely as they can.
Social distancing will be the biggest key, but they will also bring cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer, as well as each bringing their own water bottles. Lane said they wanted to organize this event to show the school district how important football is to these players.
"We want to bring awareness to the district that for some kids, this is all we have," said Lane. "There's no other way to keep us out of trouble. This is all some of these kids have."
The message they want to give to the school district is simple: they want to play football and they need their football families back in their lives.
"The counties around us are getting going with Phase 1 and things like that, and we're just kind of in the blindside because no one is telling us anything. We just want to get started as soon as possible so we have something to do," said Lane. "We want to get back to team-oriented things. For me and some other guys, we don't have father figures at home and being around my coaches means everything to me. I want to see them outside of my directed messages. We want to get back because the guys at our school are all some guys have for guidance."
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