Rising Eastern View freshman football player Brett Clatterbaugh answers the viral Cyclone Challenge for “most unique squat” with a pair of chicken cages.

Brett Clatterbaugh lives on a small farm with approximately 50 chickens. The rising Eastern View High School freshman and his family typically raise the birds for eggs and for show.

In a pinch, they also make decent weights.

Last week, when Cyclones football coach Greg Hatfield issued a workout challenge on Twitter with the caveat, “most unique squat wins,” Clatterbaugh went to work.

Using the bar from a chain link fence, the aspiring linebacker wired an occupied chicken cage to each end and draped the contraption across his shoulders. Just like that, the squawking squat was born.

Under ordinary circumstances, Eastern View’s offseason weightlifting program would be in full swing. But the novel coronavirus has tested the creativity of high school coaches across the Fredericksburg area (and the country) when it comes to implementing strength and conditioning regimens. Several have posted workouts to social media, often tempering calisthenics with a dose of comic relief.

“It gets the energy flowing--see what other people do, then see if you can top it,” Clatterbaugh said. “It gives you a little competition and also gets your workout in when you can’t go to the school and all the gyms are closed.”

Courtland football and track and field coach J.C. Hall has a simple message for his athletes and other followers: “Get off the couch.”

Hall has affixed the hashtag to quarantine videos that show the coach doing everything from cooking crockpot macaroni and cheese to vacuuming in his Spotsylvania County home.

The lighthearted communication is aimed at Hall’s track and football athletes, students in his gym class and adults who have been forced out of work or into telework. He’s used humor to lighten the mood, claiming in his cooking video that stirring the mac and cheese is good for the deltoid and triceps muscles.

Hall has recorded a video daily with help from his wife, Emily.

“My wife and I have got to be careful because we don’t know if we can one-up the last one,” Hall said with a laugh. “It’s getting challenging … People are stressed and we just want to have a calming effect and make them laugh.”

When the pandemic closed schools--and, by extension, weight rooms--Hatfield consulted with trainers to craft a workout plan that didn’t require access to equipment. His daily video challenges are intended as a supplement; on upper-body day, for example, the Cyclones were asked to churn out as many push-ups as possible in a two-minute stretch.

“We put the first one out there and I wasn’t sure what kind of response we’d get,” Hatfield said. “The videos started slowly coming in, and then they started coming in at a pretty regular pace.”

And not just from Eastern View’s players. In another memorable entry, Cyclones junior D’Artagnan Sherbeyn shouldered his sister Faith, who probably wasn’t thrilled their mother captioned the video “151 lb squat.” Faith, an Eastern View cheerleader, promptly returned the favor by squatting her sibling.

“What’s been cool is we’ve had sisters and moms get involved,” Hatfield said. “I’ve been happy with the way it’s kept us connected.”

At North Stafford, football coach Neil Sullivan has been using Screencast, online playbooks and other methods to reach his players. Screencast allows users to record video or PowerPoint presentations and add a voiceover. Sullivan then pushes the material out to Wolverine players and assistant coaches.

Sullivan said utilizing technology is essential even in non-quarantined times.

“If you’re not taking advantage of all the tools out there, you’re missing out,” Sullivan said. “There are online clinics where you can collaborate with coaches from all across the country. You’ve definitely got to take advantage of it.”

Massaponax football coach Eric Ludden noted that Spotsylvania County doesn’t allow educators to partake in Zoom, a popular remote conferencing service. Instead, Ludden and his staff have used Google Classroom to send out workout plans.

The Panthers have engaged in various challenges, including filling a backpack with heavy materials and walking up and down stairs. They’ve also filled half-gallon milk jugs with water and performed front raises, an upper-body exercise.

Ludden balances weightlifting instructions for those who have home gyms with body weight drills for those who don’t have that convenience.

“We definitely caution them to be by themselves,” Ludden said of abiding by the social distancing orders in place. “We’re just all trying to keep our spirits up, and, when we can connect electronically, that makes a difference.”

Taft Coghill Jr: 540/374-5526

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