Cobbers, Dragons strength coaches get 'creative' with training programs without in-person interaction
MOORHEAD — In lieu of in-person interactions, Faith Dooley has turned to social media to help Concordia Cobbers athletes get stronger and stay conditioned.
The school’s head volleyball coach, Dooley is also an assistant strength and conditioning coach for Concordia, primarily working with four different Cobbers sports teams.
Dooley, who completed her first season as volleyball head coach last fall, misses the more traditional interactions with the athletes that she coaches and trains. In late March, Concordia halted all in-person, athletic-related activities through the end of the school year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"I love that time with the kids and seeing them grow every day," said Dooley, who was a standout volleyball player at the University of North Dakota. "That’s the coolest part, seeing them grow every day, growing as people. I definitely miss being with them."
Dooley said the Cobbers have tried to be creative with their workouts for athletes and how that message is delivered. Concordia has posted videos on the "Cobber Strength" YouTube channel and Instagram account to supplement workouts given to the school's athletes before they left campus. Brandon Toothaker is Concordia's head strength coach.
"We’re trying to start to ramp up our YouTube channel a little bit," Dooley said. "We’re posting workouts through Instagram and doing some daily challenges. … We encourage our kids to stay active and send us videos. We have them send us videos of things that they do. We're just trying to get creative."
Minnesota State Moorhead also announced in late March it can’t have any in-person and/or on-campus activities through the end of the school year, including no in-person weight training or conditioning.
MSUM head strength coach Travis Anderson said he’s uploaded his traditional and adjusted workouts onto the school’s online athletic site for athletes to access. He wanted to give athletes variety depending on their available workout equipment.
"There are people who have full access to a gym, either their parents have a garage gym or they have everything that they need, and you have people who have absolutely nothing," Anderson said. "And you have everything in between."
Anderson has been the head strength coach at MSUM since 2010, primarily working with football, men’s and women’s basketball and also volleyball.
Both Dooley and Anderson said they’ve tried to provide alternative ways to maintain strength and conditioning for those who don't have access to a home gym or similar setup. For example, Concordia has posted videos with workouts that use tow ropes, towels and sandbags.
Anderson said he’s included "bodyweight type stuff" in his workout plans. He’s also suggested ideas for using "random equipment" that can be found in the home, like using stairs for box jumps. Concordia has posted a 25-stairs challenge.
"We’ve tried to provide some simple conditioning that you can do on the street, you can do on your sidewalk," Anderson added. "Some have a treadmill."
Anderson said he’s communicated with more than 100 MSUM athletes in recent weeks via video calls, texts or phone calls. He’s also participated in multiple team video conferences to help answer questions and address training concerns.
Anderson is married with four children, ranging in age from 10 months old to 9 years old. That has provided another challenge for Anderson, who has had to homeschool his two oldest kids as he's worked from home. The homeschooling takes about three to four hours a day during the week.
"I’m trying to run like a homeschool and a daycare and also trying to get all this stuff done at the same time," Anderson said with a laugh. "My wife thinks I’m crazy, but I’m the classic strength coach. We have a schedule, wake up at the same time, breakfast at the same time, we do our school work right after breakfast."
The "Cobber Strength" Instagram started posting workout videos on March 24. One of the more recent posts is a workout that features a towel. Another post shows how to use a sandbag for strength training.
"Nothing is mandatory that we send them. We understand that they are home and limited with what they have," Dooley said. "Most of this workout stuff right now is to keep them active and not lose a lot of what we did. And not so much what peak are you reaching at this point. It’s not so much about that.
"I miss being with them everyday and they motivate me to keep growing and working as a coach."