FREEDOM, Wis. (NBC 26) -- Even on a rainy Labor Day, Freedom football got a head start Monday.
The Irish took to the field on Labor Day, the first day teams playing this fall were permitted to practice under the WIAA's revised rules.
Rather than wait until after the holiday to practice, the Irish couldn't wait to get out on the field.
"I wanted to get out a long time ago," Freedom senior safety Jon Verhasselt said. "We were able to practice so I wouldn't want to wait another day."
"It is exciting to be out here with them," Freedom head coach Frank Mattia said.
But, Mattia acknowledged his job looks a lot different this year as he attempts to keep his players safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Our motto on the team is find a way and this season we have to find a lot of ways to make it as safely as we can," he said.
Normally on the first day of practice, teams with the pedigree of Freedom are talking about state championship aspirations. But this year, the goals are a bit different.
"Our goal is no infections," Mattia said. "We have to bear in mind how really awful this infection is and understanding that the decision's been made to play this season, we have to alter things."
Changes include revised locker room protocols, social distancing and wearing masks when possible, and a major change to film study.
"Really we don't do anything inside anymore," Mattia said. "In past years we've done tons of film work. Now we're having to find ways to do it in Zoom meetings and things like that."
"It's a lot different because you can't have the face to face talks with your coach," Verhasselt added. "Over Zoom, sometimes your internet is bad... You can't just go to the shed and watch film."
While there is excitement for the start of the season, both admitted they have some nerves as well.
"It's always in the back of your mind," Verhasselt said. "But you kind of try and push it back and try to be positive about the whole situation."
"You wouldn't be a thinking person if you didn't have some trepidation," Mattia added. "We feel fortunate to have the opportunity and we're gonna do everything we can so that we can keep the opportunity."
Freedom begins its shortened season on September 25.