Joe Fagnano of the University of Maine (left), pictured during a 2019 game. Credit: Peter Buehner

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Some University of Maine athletes have been attending voluntary workouts at Mahaney Diamond on the Orono campus as the planned start of the fall semester approaches.

UMaine Director of Sports Performance Jon Lynch and his staff have been directing the sessions since June 18.

The staff began by leading the student-athletes through routine conditioning drills useful for all sports. They set up stations five yards, or 15 feet, apart.

Social distancing guidelines suggest people stay six feet apart.

After a week and a half, Lynch began discouraging student-athletes who had their own training equipment from attending the sessions.

“That portion of the workout was for student-athletes who didn’t have access to anything,” Lynch said. “It was a very basic program.”

Jon Lynch, UMaine Director of Sports Performance Credit: University of Maine athletics

UMaine’s indoor facilities, including the New Balance Field House and Latti Fitness Center, remain closed since the campus shut down in March.

On June 29, the athlete workouts were expanded to include sport-specific sessions available for anybody who wanted to attend.

“These are more energy, system-oriented,” Lynch said. “We really look at what the present need is based on the amount of time we have.

“We’re in a pretty urgent situation in football. We’ve got to try to get them ready to play Ball State in September,” Lynch said.

There are four stations: warm-up, strength, conditioning and cooldown.

“Each lasts eight minutes and they have two minutes to rotate to the next station,” Lynch said.

UMaine is limited to groups of no more than 10 athletes and coaches per session, but Lynch said six is the number that works best.

Lynch said they have 30 student-athletes signed up for the drills but they don’t all come at once, so the groups vary in number.

When UMaine first started the workouts, they were restricted to student-athletes who lived within 30 miles of campus. That has since been expanded to include student-athletes from New York, New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut.

People from those states are no longer required by state mandate to be quarantined for 14 days before integrating with the population.

Student-athletes who are residents of Massachusetts and Rhode Island are asked to abide by the quarantine or provide proof of a negative coronavirus test before participating.

Ryan Taylor, UMaine’s head athletic trainer, takes the student-athletes’ temperature before they work out and performs a checklist of coronavirus symptoms.

In a normal year, Lynch and his staff would be holding two workouts a day for the freshman scholarship football players and helping them get used to college life. They would also be working with UMaine athletes in other sports and helping with various youth sports camps.

The sports camps were canceled.

“As much of a challenge this has been, it has been a great learning experience for me,” said the 34-year-old Lynch, a native of Granby, Massachusetts. “I’ve met a lot of people who have very important jobs at the university through this process that I otherwise wouldn’t have met.

“I’ve had to step up, take the ball and run with it,” he said.

He said UMaine is doing everything it can to make sure everyone is safe.

“If there isn’t a fall season, we aren’t going to let it be our fault,” Lynch said.

“We badly want to play but not at the detriment of health and safety,” UMaine athletics director Ken Ralph said.