Local coaches navigating the pandemic

Local Sports

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Coaches do everything to put their teams in a position to win, but they’re all feeling the same loss right now.

“To suddenly be separated, it’s like you’re missing limbs,” said Siena women’s basketball head coach Ali Jaques. “It’s just strange.”

Whether working full-time or part-time, in what should be the season or out, every coach is forced to re-examine how to get the most out of this time apart.

“What I have done to create that advantage we’re always trying to get is I put more of the onus on my coaches,” said Troy football head coach Bob Burns, who led the Flying Horses to back-to-back state championships in 2017 and 2018. In addition to conducting weekly virtual team and staff meetings, he gives his assistant coaches assignments. They’re all expected to consistently check in with the players.

“There isn’t two days that go by where I’m not shooing a text to a kid to see how he’s doing,” said Burns, who also checks up on how his players are doing academically.

Ballston Spa baseball head coach Curtis Nobles also emphasized the importance of staying connected. Before the season was officially cancelled, he admitted he would briefly go over the team’s offensive and defensive strategies once a week, but most of their Zoom calls were “dugout talk.”

“That’s the thing we miss the most,” Nobles explained. “The human interaction.”

Stillwater football head coach agrees. “Especially because it’s such a finite amount of time.” he said. “We don’t get this back with these kids. They don’t get another year of eligibility.”

As leaders, there’s little time to dwell on the disappointment of the situation. Part of the job is to be a steady ship steering the program regardless of the conditions. UAlbany women’s basketball head coach Colleen Mullen discussed the difficulty of navigating these uncharted waters.

“Trying to figure out creative ways to stay connected, to still be productive in your jobs, to deliver a product,” she said. A winning product is the ultimate goal, so the coaches do what they can to set their players up for success.

“We’ve tried to give them a blueprint as to what they should try to be doing,” said Burns, who admitted the requirements would be much stricter if he and his staff saw the players daily as usual and could check on their progress. Ultimately the accountability falls on the players.

“Because it was taken away from them, hopefully they embrace the opportunity they have,” said Burns, outlining what he hopes is the silver lining.

Either way, the teaching never ends.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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