Members of the Brunswick football program do some conditioning Wednesday at Brunswick High School. Adam Robinson/The Times Record

Athletics are back at Brunswick High School — at least for now.

After weeks of watching counterparts — including neighboring Mt. Ararat in Topsham — hold conditioning sessions, the Dragons finally received the proverbial green light to hold workouts. Most schools in the state were allowed to hold small conditioning workouts for weeks, but those in Cumberland and York counties — two of the hardest hit COVID-19 areas — had to wait.

“We are on the edge (of the county) and our numbers are low,” said Brunswick athletic director Jeff Ramich, whose school is in Cumberland County. “Everyone has been excited. We are grateful for the superintendent and the assistant superintendent for allowing us to do this. The coaches are all excited, the kids are all excited, I’ve got nothing but positive emails about this.”

Brunswick athletes returned to practice fields Monday and are working out this week. Athletes are required to check in with a trainer prior to working out.

“This is the hardest part, right here,” Brunswick football coach Dan Cooper said. “You know how you go to the doctor’s office and they ask you the pre questions? That’s what this is. They’re all supposed to go online and do the COVID check.”

Brunswick volleyball coach Kaili Phillips said she was pleased with her team’s energy, morale and turnout this week.

“They were super excited,” Phillips said. “They’ve been as patient as anyone could be, they were very anxious to get together. My team is a co-op team so today I had a full 10 kids, the max, with four from Mt. Ararat and six from Brunswick. All of them, they really wanted to be together to do this and they were super excited and able to condition even if it wasn’t sport specific. They were excited to have some sort of kind of a hint of things they might be able to run in the fall.”

Phillips, whose team was working out on the track this week, added that she is confident the Dragons can make up for some lost time as well. The Dragons were doing sprints and also dancing between reps.

“We can definitely make it up,” Phillips said. “I think normally if someone doesn’t run all summer that might be a disadvantage but most teams are in Cumberland and York, it’s growing but the majority are in this county. Are we at more of a disadvantage as others? Not really, I think we can make it up. … The feeling that they are so lifted by being around people and, ‘Here we go,’ and just so energized. I could’ve had them do anything today and they would have been having fun. Nothing is fun about sprints but they were having fun with it.”

Cooper, meanwhile, acknowledged the delayed start will impact his football team.

“Yeah, definitely,” Cooper said. “You know, we’ve been doing this for a while so we can make this work. They delayed the season so these two weeks give us a chance to catch up. We don’t play anybody down there and the teams we play have already been playing for a month. I’m sure the teams that we play that have been going for a month will have a leg up on us, for sure.”

Brunswick boys basketball coach Todd Hanson agreed.

Members of the Brunswick football program do some conditioning Wednesday at Brunswick High School. Adam Robinson/The Times Record

“In Brunswick we are at a disadvantage because we are in Cumberland county but Mt. Ararat and Morse are not and so they have had a head start on us,” Hanson said. “I think they’ve been able to do the conditioning in July. I feel a little bit behind and I know in Brunswick, too, during June and May the hoops were covered. It’s slowly getting back to normal. My hope is that the guys, if they were tired or injured, that they’re rejuvenated and have recharged the batteries and are ready to go but you can’t help but feel a little bit behind. I’m grateful to have this opportunity today when some other schools in Cumberland county don’t and it was really nice to get back outside.”

Added football player Evan Kifoil: “Definitely, yeah, because we can’t do anything until Sept. 8 and we definitely would have been getting into by now so it sets us back. t’s hard because we aren’t supposed to be in contact with coach directly outside of these workouts… I think that it’s going to be different. I’m not sure how we stack up to other years but I feel like we won’t be able to build chemistry and also our bodies will be less in shape because we haven’t done anything the last six months. It’s better than nothing.”

The Dragons are in Phase 1 of the MPA’s sports reopening plan, meaning teams can’t do any sport-specific workouts.

“Next week you can introduce balls,” Brunswick girls soccer coach Martyn Davison said. “It’s up to the coaches to set up the workouts next week and you can introduce equipment but it’s still conditioning. It’s still individual, you can’t pass just shooting and dribbling. With soccer drills everything is passing so it’s really tough. It is what it is, you have to do what you’re told.”

“Our first session was good,” Davison added. “I’m going very light because these girls haven’t done anything in months and so we are going light. I know some teams have been kicking around before this but we haven’t so we’ve been going very light. The program that was set up by the trainer was good, not too strenuous, tonight is a little more so I’m going to watch it. It’s a matter of getting them up more gradually and go at their own pace. They won’t play for another five weeks. NExt week will be ball work and then go up every week.”

Some Brunswick athletes said it was great to be teammates again.

“It’s definitely fun,” senior basketball player Ethan Upham said. “I haven’t seen a bunch of them in a while, we try to go to the courts once in a while but we can’t do much so it was great seeing everyone and get in better in shape with everyone. I could see some people struggling a bit but I could see everyone, even if they weren’t in great shape, they were trying their hardest to get back into it.”

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