What do we do with this time-off as coaches?
I read an article the other day and wanted to give my thoughts. It remains that we are in a time of unknown. As we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic in which we are seeing school closures, businesses closing or changing their mode of operations, in addition to us being asked to socially distance ourselves. It is challenging, but it also provides us some opportunities as well.
I know sports can take a backseat to a lot of the things happening now, but I do not envy the position of a school's AD right now. How does one navigate through the cancellations and postponements without really knowing what the future holds? Or if you will even have a spring sports season? Coaching during this time has been extremely difficult. Especially since we got started that first week. Towards the end of the week, you could start to feel the excitement, the hope for a strong season. The culture buy-in, everything was ramping up. And then we got slammed. The most difficult part is not having that interaction with your student-athletes and sharing the insight and knowledge you want to pass on and the drive to continuously improve. Sure, they can do that on their own at home in between their Fortnite matches, but still. It isn’t the same. Seeing and hearing disappointment from your players is tough to swallow. Dealing with disappointment and their hard work and dreams get knocked down to the barrel. Combine that with the feeling of the unknowns and really not knowing what the future is going to hold, truly sucks. That is really the only way I can explain it. It sucks.
Somehow, we have to find ourselves to be thankful in times like these. I applaud my fellow peers, being other coaches and teachers. I applaud them because, in times of chaos, we tend to lean towards the bigger picture most of the time. While our student-athletes are at home, perhaps this is the time they need us most. I love winning and am ultimately competitive and as a coach, you try to instill that into your players, but during this pandemic, I have felt heartache in my bones. I am devastated for myself and all of these kids getting these opportunities taken away from them. However, it has also made me very thankful. This is the time where us coaches look at how we develop our relationships and which character traits we have passed along to our athletes. This is more than a game. This is where we can talk about LIFE. Support each other, lean on your friends, your teammates. Face this adversity together. As a group. This will make you stronger. Being without spring sports is difficult, but we will bounce back.
An old basketball metaphor was that “one day, the ball will stop bouncing. It could be today, tomorrow, or a long way down the road, but eventually, the ball stops bouncing.” We have seen high schools across the nation cancel games or seasons behind the NBA, MLB, NASCAR, NHL, etc all follow the same regimen in postponements due to COVID-19. I understand these measures were taken to protect the public from the danger the virus is presenting globally, but it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow, does it?
It comes with understandable and an unvoidable level of disappointment and anger from athletes and coaches involved. We as coaches try and tell our players to keep in shape and not to give up and think positively, but man it is tough. Reality seems to be setting in. Cases continue to grow exponentially and the possibility of not having a spring sports season is going to create a hole in our souls this year. And who knows about summer? All speculation, I guess. Days without practices, games, and even workouts drag on endlessly. Student-athletes may be finding themselves to be adjusting to life without sports. I hope that isn’t permanent for some of these kids. It would be gravely disappointing.
90% of high school seniors do not go onto play college sports. I would hate for this to end their careers. Imagine missing your final chapter. Brutal.
Some take it better than others. I guess we can all come together in terms of speaking of different experiences during this isolation time, but I know mine hasn’t been fun at all. I am going insane.
I know one thing for sure. This experience will absolutely never allow me to take sports for granted. Whether it is a 6 a.m. practice, a championship game, or even a simple intrasquad scrimmage, I will never take it for granted. Ever.