Everyone has had to adjust in the wake of the shelter-in-place order that has been in effect for two weeks now because of the coronavirus, including high school athletic departments.
Notre Dame-Belmont AD, Jason Levine, has been very proactive in trying to keep his coaches and the school’s student-athletes engaged as much as possible.
“I meet with my athletic staff once a week — what are things we can keep working on?” Levine said. “I ask all my coaches to come up with daily or weekly workout plans that [the athletes] can either do at home or in an open area. Then I ask them to do one Zoom meeting a week (with the members of their team).”
For Levine, the thought is trying to provide some sense of normalcy in what is an otherwise chaotic and ever-changing situation.
“These kids are under tremendous pressure. They still have to do homework and turn in assignments,” Levine said. “They can’t do regular things and then we’re asking them to work out in the backyard.”
Other ADs, however, are taking a more hands-off approach, leaving it up to the coaches to determine how much and what workouts to do, knowing that getting together in even small groups is highly discouraged.
“The only thing I’ve been doing (from an AD standpoint) is communicating with coaches, letting them know, ‘Here is where we’re at,’” said San Mateo AD Jeff Scheller. “I would say (spring sports) has been on the backburner. It’s not that I’m not thinking about it, but there’s just not a lot that can be done (right now).”
Besides, the spring sports season is just about a done deal as far as an athletic director goes. While the coaches for the various spring sports are in the here and now, an AD’s focus has already turned to the 2020-21 high school season.
“I’ve been talking with our (sales) reps, planning purchases for next year, getting tournaments sanctioned (for next season),” said Aragon AD Steve Sell. “Doing some scheduling stuff for next year. Making sure we have all our hirings and stuff in place.”
An AD’s biggest concerns, however, is making sure that their student-athletes are taking care of their mental health. That’s why Levine finds the online meetings between coaches and players, and himself and players, so important.
“(It’s important) just to have some face-to-face connection,” Levine said.
Said Sell: “The emails I’ve been copied in on (from coaches) have been checking in (with their players) to make sure their spirits are up. That’s the thing we’re concerned about.”
There is also a certain segment of kids whose only reason for coming to school is to participate in sports or be around the athletic department.
“You don’t know how many kids who show up to school and they don’t do anything,” Scheller said. “They just know that’s what they’re supposed to do and it’s a safe place.”
As hard as it is on coaching staffs and the players, the shutdown of sports also impact ADs. After all, they do this job for the love of sports, so they’re just as frustrated when they can’t get involved either.
“Springs is just constant activity. It’s awesome to go on campus and see a bunch of things taking place,” Sell said. “I think, by nature, we’re social people. We crave connections to human beings. We love competition, we love sports. Usually at this time of year, I can walk around campus and see a softball game, a tennis match and a swim meet all going on.
“There is a complete lack of positive energy.”
Levine relishes the time during the day when he can get out from behind his desk, take off his administrator’s hat and simply think about the game at hand.
“What I do miss is lining the softball field (before a game), or setting up for a lacrosse game … setting up the scoreboard,” Levine said. “The mornings are usually the same. I’m still doing meetings regularly (with different departments of the school). I just miss the afternoons and watching the kids smile.”