Soccer coach stayed busy during shutdown

Rock Canyon’s Carpenter made videos, trained athletes from other schools

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Aaron Carpenter, boys soccer coach at Rock Canyon High School in Highlands Ranch, had mixed feelings while filling time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Colorado High School Activities Association issued a moratorium against in-person contact for coaches and players, plus all spring sports activities were canceled.

So Carpenter conducted private training sessions, made videos for his class and did some fishing and hiking.

“I was hanging in there, doing a couple private training sessions,” said Carpenter. “I just did one player or two at a time. I couldn’t train them on campus. I had to do it off campus and they couldn’t be my guys. The guys I’m training now are from Mountain Vista, our rivals, so I’m making them better.

“I’ve done all the online teaching. I got pretty rehearsed on iMovie, making videos for my class each week. So that was interesting, trying to keep them engaged. The other part has been nice. I live in the (Colorado) Springs so I have quite a commute. It was nice to kind of hang out in the Springs. I love the trails and I fish a lot. I got a lot of fishing in during the spring.”

Carpenter doesn’t know yet what might be in store for school or fall sports events.

The CHSAA lifted its moratorium on June 1 with strict guidelines. After June 1, decisions regarding athletics and activities through the summer months will be made at the local school level. The CHSAA suggested recommendations, which referred to national, state and health guidelines to assist with resuming activities and athletics while prioritizing safety standards and protocols.

“You are hearing the same stories we’re hearing as a teacher and coach,” continued Carpenter. “It pretty much each week we get updates and it’s a lot of unknown at this point. I think the board is getting together and trying to formulate a better understanding of what they are going for by June 9. They are going to come up with several options, plan A, B, C and D. So we are just kind of waiting in the wings and hoping I don’t lose a season with the guys.

“I hope they all collaborate and go over the different ideas. Obviously liability is a big factor and safety is the biggest factor. A lot of forward thinking has to go into all this. It’s a challenge for everyone.”

Carpenter’s challenge is trying to forget the past and focus on what hopes will be an upcoming season.

“I’m still upset,” said Carpenter. “I started four years ago with the class of 2020. They started with me and I was real close to those guys. I had 13 of them. We called them the Baker’s Dozen. They didn’t get their rite of passage to walk out of school and hug their coaches and teachers. I normally take them out to dinner to celebrate. That was sad.

“But you have to have a positive attitude and I’m making videos for my returning players. They check in with me a few times a week. It’s a good lesson for them about self-motivation and self-drive. I’m always motivated and it is sort of a challenge and embrace it. How can we have an advantage over our rivals?”

Rock Canyon was 10-4-3 during the 2019 season.

“I’ve got another great group of guys that are hungry to make their mark,” said Carpenter. “We had a lot of young guys that moved up to varsity last year and they are going to be upperclassmen this year. I hope for their sake we can get the season in and always try to win the conference. Our conference was really strong last year, with three teams making the Sweet 16 including us.

“You have to be positive. I was even giving the guys challenges all spring. On Fridays, we would have competitions, and when they come back I said I would buy them lunch if they won a challenge. There was everything from juggling on video to making your family dinner. One week during a snow storm, who could build the biggest snowman. I put all that on social media. They had fun and followed it. We had a good time with it. We like to keep things entertaining. I think I have about 10 lunches that I have to buy.”

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