PLEASANT VALLEY, W.Va. — After a solid opening season under new head coach Shane Eakle, the Bees at East Fairmont were excited to get back in the weight room and on the practice field to put the pieces for the 2020 season in place. That process was slowed by the pandemic but last week, Eakle welcomed his guys back to Pleasant Valley.
“It is like a family,” Eakle said. You haven’t seen your family for three to four months so even though we are only seeing eight to ten guys at a time, it is still good to see each of the guys. The coaches are working with the different groups and I think the kids really like it because they are getting to see each other for the first time in a long time.”
Much of the heavy lifting, so to speak, will come next week when Phase II begins. Teams can enter their weight rooms to use all their gear then.
“We are lifting a little bit just for range of motion and stability. It is kind of old school, not real heavy lifting, just trying to move kids around little bit. That’s kind of the big thing to get them moving around a little bit so they are ready for phase two. Hopefully when we are able to go back into the weight room setting, we will be more acclimated to that.”
The Bees went 4-6 last fall, equalling their win total from the previous three seasons. The resurgence was led in part by a solid senior class.
“I think the fact that our guys played in the system for a year, we graduated fifteen seniors which is rough, but we still have a nucleus that understands what the program is all about. They are starting to teach that to our younger kids.”
Four of their six losses came against playoff teams in the competitive Big 10 Conference.
“Week in and week out, we played hard. We battled. Even in games we got beat, we didn’t give up. We want that for them in life. One of the big things we tell them is to speak with your actions. A lot of people say things but we want to know what you are going to do.”
Several of the Bees’ top skill players have graduated and a primary preseason focus for the Bees will be to improve their depth on both lines.
“We’ve got to be better up front. We kind of got pushed around a good bit up front and that is one of the reasons we are doing what we are doing here. It is to try to get our guys a little bit better. I think preparing now will help us when it gets into August and September when we start playing ball games.”