MOORHEAD — With sports put on hold across the state due to the coronavirus outbreak, high school sports squads in Minnesota have had to get creative to keep themselves ready for action if and when they are actually allowed to play.
Spring sports were a week into their preseason practices before sports were suspended last week. But with schools closed and group gatherings limited, practices came to a screeching halt. Teams are not allowed to hold practices and coaches are not allowed to require any mandatory captains practices or open gyms.
“We can’t require them to do anything,” Moorhead softball coach Stacey Holm said. “We throw stuff out there. So my captains are taking charge as far as workouts go and it’s just encouraging them. Getting exercise is going to help with our stress level. We can’t see each other face to face, but we’re only a phone call away or an email away.”
What coaches can do is provide optional workouts for their athletes and stay in contact with them remotely to give instruction via electronic communication. Moorhead Park Christian track and field coach Megan Endreson set up a Microsoft Teams account for her athletes to use if they want ideas for workouts. Most of her athletes, she said, view other sports as their primary endeavor and mainly use track to stay in shape or improve their performance for their other sports.
“My kids are used to me — if we have a snow day, we’ve had at-home workouts and they’ve had to send me pictures or the time it took them to do it depending on the workout,” Endreson said. “I’ve set up the same thing, if the kids are stuck at home, they need to be active anyway. It’s not good to lose all of your conditioning. I can’t require them to do anything, so I’ve put out optional workouts they can do if they want.”
This is totally new territory for coaches across the state and the country. Few if any people have ever had to deal with this type of shutdown. Endreson and Holm both said that they have never dealt with a similar delay to a season. They’ve dealt with late starts due to cold weather persisting into late March or April and have had complications due to flooding. But never a full shutdown like the one they’re experiencing this spring.
“I don’t think we’ve had anything like this at all,” Holm said. “We’ve had times where we haven’t been able to start the season as far as competition goes. We’ve never had anything like this where we haven’t been able to practice.”
With the season suspended — officially until March 27 for now, but seemingly indefinitely amongst the pandemic — it leaves senior athletes uncertain whether they will get to compete in their final high school season.
“It would be really sad,” Endreson said. “I’ve got a really solid group of seniors who were coming out this year to finish high school strong. I’ve got the biggest numbers I’ve ever had in my 12 years. It’s really tough — we’ve got some high goals for that. I think ultimately they would be pretty sad if they weren’t able to finish out their high school careers doing something they’ve always done and just for the normalcy.”
Even if the normalcy provided by sports participation may not be available to students, Endreson believes it is important for coaches to back the student athletes at Park Christian and around the state.
“I think the most important thing is to provide support for the kids and be there for them,” she said. “I don’t know if or when things start, but if this does go a lot longer, they need support.”