As a football team, the Hahnville Tigers are all wet.
In an attempt to get back in shape with the start of summer activities following a long layoff because of the coronavirus pandemic, first-year Hahnville coach Daniel Luquet decided to try something unorthodox.
“I’ve never really had an opportunity to do this with a team. We come here in the fall for a ‘Burger Bowl’ after one of our scrimmages,” said Luquet, referring to the Grand Ridge Country Club in Luling. “A lot of our kids are a member of this pool and work at this pool. I was looking for ‘outside-the-box’ activities to get our guys ready.
“It’s something to just break up the monotony of what the weight room is and just trying to get those kids back into shape.”
Wednesday morning marked the second time for the Tigers to hit the pool rather than the weighs.
The Tigers take advantage of the Grand Ridge pool and the Mimosa Swim and Racquet Club pool, both in Luling. Two groups work at each pool with the session generally lasting one hour.
“Offensive skilled players go first and then our offensive big guys and our kickers come in the next group. At the other pool, the first hour is our d-line and linebackers and then our secondary comes in,” explained Luquet.
While the water workouts may be unique to the new Hahnville head coach, it was part of a routine used by assistant Nate Singleton while playing in the NFL.
“Coach Nate Singleton, my wide receiver coach who played six years in the League for the 49ers, he said this is a workout they did a lot in San Francisco that just helped resistance and getting the body right. It was really good for after games and recovery,” said Luquet.
The idea was to get in shape without rushing things too much after high school teams were allowed to start summer activities last week following the announcement by Gov. John Bel Edwards that the state was entering Phase Two of coronavirus protocol phase.
“Coming from guys that haven’t been doing anything since March 13, for us, it was kind of just bringing them back to some kind of football shape,” Luquet explained. “We didn’t want to be one of those schools that rushed into the weight room and try to see where they were at and hurry up and fill in the gaps that we missed.
“It was just trying to gauge where they were at at the football facility and then out at the pool.”
The Tigers work through various exercises while in the pool, with the word “resistance” being on the tips of everyone’s tongues.
“We do a lot of ballistic stretching – just regular warmups,” said Luquet. “In the old-school days for us it was high-knee, A-skip, B-skip. We are doing a lot of that but we are just doing it in the pool and it just works on resistance. When you do it in the pool, the pool gives you that natural resistance and it works on your joints.
“I’m big on making sure we take care of (preventing) football-related injuries, making sure our knees are strong, our ankles are strong, our hips are strong, our core is strong. The pool does that. It gives you natural resistance but it doesn’t take a toll on your body that weights would do if you were in the weight room.”
The idea of working in the water seemed to be universally accepted by Hahnville players.
“I thought it would be a good opportunity for us. Not too many high schools around here do the pool training. I think it’s something that can set us apart from the rest of the teams in the state when we get to the season,” said receiver Corey Lorio, who will be a senior in the fall.
“I couldn’t wait,” said senior Hahnville quarterback Andrew Naquin. “You can get a lot out of being outside and everything. That’s standard, but if there is an advantage to having the pool for additional (work) we are all for it – anything to get an edge during this coronavirus and everything else.”
The Tigers incorporate several exercises in their water workout routine.
“We will go across the pool with different ballistic stretches and then they will hang onto the wall and do things like scissor kicks, dragging the foot against the ground and do explosions where they go in the water and jump up 20 times,” Luquet said.
It has proven to be a bit more physically taxing than some of the football players expected.
“When you first do it, you don’t feel as tired as you would think but once you go home and you change and lay down, you certainly feel it. It’s not so much endurance-based, it’s resistance,” said Naquin.
Traditional work in the weight room likely will begin next week for the Tigers.
“We will use the next few days to just remind these guys of how to lift and good technique. These guys, whether they were working out on the levee or lifting dumbbells, they weren’t pure ‘lifting weights,’” said Luquet.
Because of the coronavirus, life has been anything but traditional for the Tigers.
“We have to maintain six feet social distance. We also have to bring a gallon of water, each. When we clock in, we have to fill out a form with our parish, (documenting) our protocols with COVID – whether or not we’ve seen someone in the last 30 days where we’ve self-quarantined and when we come in, we have to check our temperature. It’s definitely strict and there are no exceptions,” Naquin said.
“Being six feet apart – we are football players. We want to be close to each other and we are brothers, too,” said Lorio.
Unlike the student-athletes who had their season shortened or cancelled, the Tiger football players were able to complete their previous schedule.
They had to watch as others were not so fortunate. That has given the seniors-to-be a greater appreciation for what will be their last year of competition on the high school level.
“When everything was happening, there was so much uncertainty that we started questioning a lot of things we were doing. With the coaching situation also being up in question, we learned to appreciate things a lot more now. It’s built a brotherhood that I wouldn’t trade for anything,” said Naquin.
“At one point, we didn’t know if we would even have a season because the (coronavirus) numbers were going up. We will definitely take advantage of the opportunity we are given,” Lorio said.