If you’re looking for signs that life in town is getting back to a coronavirus-acceptable “new normal,” go check out the St. Cloud High gym this week.
In the back the building, athletes are working out in the weight room at stations that are spread apart to meet social distancing guidelines.
And, in the basketball gym, the sounds of roundballs hitting the parquet floor and screeching sneakers are back, as the Top Gun Shooting Camp is back in session, even if it was hastily scheduled.
“We got late clearance to do this,” St. Cloud girls basketball coach and Top Gun director Chad Ansbaugh said. “People are a little on pins and needles, and rightfully so. We’re taking sanitizing breaks.”
“Our goal isn’t even necessarily basketball right now. It’s to leave everything going on in the outside world on the other side of the gym doors. We’re taking it a day at a time. I wouldn’t be shocked if I look at my phone one day this week, and they’ve closed the school down.”
The camp has been restricted to 30 campers this year — that’s all the gym can hold and maintain space. Camp counselors are all wearing masks, and the campers received a mask, along with hand sanitizer bottles, as part of their registration fee. The campers are free to wear the masks during camp, or keep space between them and other campers. Counselors are armed with a six-foot stick for whenever human nature kicks back in and the kids bunch up. Campers exclusive use their own basketballs and no one else is supposed to touch it.
Other than the COVID-19 considerations, it’s much the same camp that St. Cloud Coach Tim McMullen — “Coach Mac” started in the early 1990s and ran until his untimely death from a heart attack in the spring of 2017. So this is the fourth camp without “Mac”, who the school dedicated the gym floor to this winter. Kids from kindergarten age through teenagers will learn the finer points of basketball shooting through drills and contests, and there will be awards and “Coaches Choice” winners at the end of the week.
“The important thing is keeping the tradition of this camp alive,” Ansbaugh said. “I can’t imagine what Mac would think of this whole virus thing.”
The camp continues through Friday.