COVID 19 has had an impact on everyone in the world. As a high school football coach and athletic director, social distancing has changed the entire landscape of how we traditionally prepare for an upcoming season. Without spring sports to compete in, club 7 on 7 teams and competitions, weight rooms and coaching clinics and conferences to attend, coaches and programs have had to make “game day adjustments” and improvise to encourage players and coaching staffs to remain interested and motivated to prepare for the 2020 fall season.
The world COVID 19 has created eliminates team gatherings so weight rooms, gyms and fields remain idle. Coaches have had to create and share workouts that players can complete at home with no gym equipment. It is literally like going back fifty years in time. With no spring athletics, many of our student-athletes will (prayerfully) be taking the field this fall to compete for the first time in an entire year.
Some people have said that COVID 19 has changed their approach to preparing for the season and on the different things they emphasize as a program. I believe that COVID 19 has helped us to emphasize and focus on what we already believe to be the most important elements of our program – relationships, including an emphasis on family and brotherhood, service and character and the pursuit of academic excellence.
Most people are focusing on the negative impact of COVID 19, especially on the unknown effects on collegiate recruiting. We choose to focus upon the incredible opportunities that God is presenting to us. There are plenty of opportunities for both coaches and players and silver linings to examine.
As a coach, I have been able to pursue clinical opportunities through Glazier and various vendors who have offered clinics to clients and potential clients. I connect on Zoom calls with other high school coaches and many college coaches to obtain knowledge and insight that I would otherwise have received at clinics. I have also been able to take advantage of opportunities to fellowship and pray with other coaches via Fellowship of Christian Athletes conference calls two to four times each week.
Our players have also begun to realize the opportunities before them. From an academic standpoint, most of our 2021s (Junior Class) will not have an SAT or ACT score because schools closed prior to the testing dates. Therefore, GPAs will be weighted more heavily as they are the main academic evaluation tool for college recruiters. Student-athletes also have the ability to more easily connect with their teachers on a one on one basis. And for those student-athletes who struggle with tardiness and behavior, I have three comments:
- It is hard to be late for class with no commute to school,
- It is hard to have behavioral issues in class when you are muted on a Zoom call,
- It is hard to lose participation points when you are in an abbreviated Zoom classroom setting.
From a recruiting standpoint, we have no college coaches visiting high school campuses this spring. This makes networking more crucial than ever before. It is critically important that high school coaches are able to connect with college coaches to develop and nurture relationships. A unique window has opened for high school coaches to connect with collegiate coaches. Without spring practice, college coaches have more time to recruit and connect with high school coaches. The positive here is that since coaches have more time to look at film there are more opportunities for players to be seen and evaluated.
Thus, my advice to student-athletes is to stay encouraged, finish the year strong academically and prepare highlight film if you have it.