For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic ended spring practice in March, the Kentucky football program officially returned to the field on Monday for its first run of workouts, marking the unofficial return of sports on UK’s campus.
This afternoon, Kentucky pass-rusher Josh Paschal spoke to the media for the first time about the team’s return to the practice facilities, the steps they must take before taking the field, and what new workouts are like, among other topics.
“Yeah, we started working out yesterday, that was our first workout,” Paschal told the media. “Everything is different now, of course. When you get there, you have to go through the whole process to make sure you’re cleared to work out, they take your temperature. When you first wake up, you have to go and see if you have any symptoms [with the medical staff], it’s a couple different things you have to do now once you’re in the workout. It’s very different.”
In a complete step-by-step breakdown, Paschal then discussed specifically what workouts are like and the steps necessary to begin each day:
- Fill out “Do you have symptoms?” survey on your phone.
- Upon approval, make way to facility at designated workout time.
- Workout gear is worn to facility; only shoes remain on campus.
- Trainer asks if anything has changed symptoms-wise since leaving home.
- Take temperature.
- Grab water bottle, towel, shoes from managers.
- Everything is outside except lifting. Every player has their own weight rack, six feet apart.
- Strength coaches sanitize everything once it is finished being used.
- Pick up phone, keys and wallet and get out the door.
- Pick up food and protein shakes from nutritionist.
- Clean up at home.
Regarding the workout itself, Paschal noted that the team does, in fact, have to wear a mask from start to finish. And yes, it’s fairly annoying for the players.
“Yeah, we have to wear it the whole time, and it’s very annoying,” Paschal said. “Of course, I don’t think it’s possible to go through a workout without taking it off at least once, pulling it away from your face for a couple seconds while you’re alone. It’s a requirement we have, we have to have the mask on. It’s like a whole other element you have to bring to the workout.”
No matter how different workouts are and how uncomfortable it may be to wear a mask in the heat of June, Paschal is confident that the UK staff is doing the right thing in ensuring player safety, something the Kentucky pass-rusher appreciates.
“From what we know, we feel as if the facility is the safest place we can be right now,” he said. “Just because of how sanitized it is after we’re done working out and before we’re done working out, things like that. Each of my teammates, we all have full faith in our training staff and our strength staff to make sure we’re in a clean environment and keep our safety first.”
As for Paschal individually, who has dealt with significant health issues with his malignant melanoma diagnosis in 2018, he feels he is 100 percent good to go and needs no added precautions.
“My oncologist said I don’t have to take any necessary precautions and as far as the research goes, I’m good,” Paschal said. “I feel like we’re all on the same level as an average human right now.”
The 6-foot-3 defensive end added that he feels good and is in solid shape after working out in recent weeks in Alabama with family over the last several weeks.
Now that he’s on campus, he’s ready to roll.
“The past couple of weeks before I came back to Kentucky I was with family in Alabama so I had the opportunity to work out down there,” Paschal said. “I feel like I stayed in good shape while I was down there and it was really a time where I could focus on football.”
At the end of the day, the team is just happy to get back to the football field.
“We were all glad. Of course we can’t dap each other up or give each other hugs but we were excited to see each other, excited to get back to work,” he said. “My group is only six people but we’re excited to see each other. Workouts are fun, music blasting. They’ve been quick, but high energy.”