WHITEHALL, Mich. — Due to poor and icy conditions on their practice field, the Mona Shores football team is having to move this week's practices.
The Sailors are preparing for Saturday's regional final while utilizing Whitehall's new indoor Viking Athletic Complex and the game field at Oakridge high school.
"Our superintendent Bill O'Brien has been so supportive, he reached out to the Whitehall superintendent [Jerry McDowell] and he said, 'you bet,' and made it work," said Sailors head coach, Matt Koziak.
As the team looks to defend last season's state championship, the help from their neighboring schools means everything.
"For them to reach their hand out, it lets you know how special Muskegon area football is and what people are willing to do to help support each other," he added.
The players feel the same way.
"It's great, Muskegon county football is just different, we're very appreciative," said senior wide receiver, Reid McAvoy.
The four-million dollar facility was opened in February of 2020 and is now serving as a great resource for the community, Whitehall students, and now, their neighboring schools like Mona Shores.
"This is just beautiful," Koziak said, "the space is perfect, obviously you can't throw deep balls but to get team run in, interior, and drills, it's amazing."
It was the first time at the facility for the Mona Shores players and coaches.
"I was amazed," McAvoy said about his first impressions, "I had no idea they had this. I didn't know what to expect, but we're really blessed we get to practice on turf, because our practice field is messed up right now."
Mona Shores football having indoor practice today at Whitehall’s new state-of-the-art Viking Athletic Complex, as the Sailors prepare for Saturday’s regional final. pic.twitter.com/2i23ekMuCd— Zach Harig (@FOX17Zach) January 4, 2021
The Sailors will move Wednesday and Thursday's practices outdoors at Oakridge high school to get a taste of the elements before moving back indoor at Whitehall on Friday.
"Hats off to Whitehall for even allowing us to come in here and do this during this COVID-19 period," Koziak added, "it's a great luxury to be 10-15 minutes down the road and be able to do this."
And of course, the players aren't complaining about being indoors, either.
"Outside, we'd be in sweatpants and sweatshirts under our pads, so just to be here in shorts and a t-shirt is awesome," said senior quarterback and safety, Brady Rose.
Whitehall superintendent Jerry McDowell says the district will allow schools like Mona Shores to use their facility, as long as they follow guidelines.
"Our guideline is that they are fully implementing the three times per week testing protocol and they follow the protocols set by the MDHHS and the MHSAA," McDowell said to FOX 17 in a statement.
He also adds that they're rooting for the Sailors and the rest of the neighboring schools in the county.
"While we compete fiercely and fearlessly on the field, we are rooting for their success in any competition that isn't against us," McDowell added, "when our neighbors are successful, we are successful."
Mona Shores will travel to East Lansing for Saturday's Division 2 regional championship.