For the first time, coaches across the U.S. are experiencing a disrupted season. Practices, games, competitions, and tournaments have all come to a standstill. The word “unprecedented” describes not only what’s happening to these cherished events, but also how our coaching community is rising above the challenge to remain leaders for their athletes and communities.
Please join BSN SPORTS in recognizing five outstanding coaches who have swiftly adapted while continuing to motivate and support their teams during these times. Their stories embody The Heart of The Game—even when the official season has been postponed.
Women’s Basketball Coach and Assistant Athletic Director | Mother McAuley High School, Chicago, IL
Coach Newell’s first priority upon learning school was cancelled was to stay connected to her student athletes. To do so, she held Zoom meetings and challenges to help propel her players during their off season. During this time, Coach Newall has focused on two key points. One, while she feels basketball and workouts are important, she’s also prioritized the kids themselves along with the notion of staying connected. “This is bigger than basketball or the sport you coach. Stay in tune with your players because they are dealing with a lot of changes.” Two, she’s focused on one of her favorite quotes, “Now is the time to trade in fear of what is uncertain for the freedom to thrive within it.” Newell says, “Try to make things positive. How can you be better and utilize this time during quarantine to come out better.”
Hear Coach Newell’s advice on how to make connections and build relationships with players outside of your sport here
Head Coach, Boys Basketball | Del Norte High School, San Diego, CA
Coach Spahn hasn’t let social distancing negatively impact how he leads and coaches his team to be better players, whether they’re on and off the court. Here are just some of the ways he’s helping to motivate and check-in with his athletes during this challenging time:
- Purchased The Energy Bus and The Hard Hat by Jon Gordon for every player on his team, which he reads with them weekly while discussing themes of leadership.
- Holds Zoom meetings 1-2 times per week with all three basketball teams (Varsity, JV and Freshmen) to check-in with each other while continuing to build the team virtually; also encourages his coaching staff to lead some of the Zoom meetings each week as well.
- Sent Ecardsto every athlete on his team to show support and uplift them.
Hear more about how Coach Spahn stays present in his athletes’ lives here
Head Swim Coach | Archer School for Girls, Los Angeles, CA
Having coached for 13 years, Coach Ferri has a special passion for helping student athletes stay active while at home. She understands the positive influence a coach can have on players, so with the help of Kim Smith, Archer’s Athletic Director, along with the entire athletic staff, she created a 5-week Panther Challenge, complete with a leaderboard. To date, over 100 middle and high school athletes have competed. Every day, students received a measurable workout, a music playlist and a team challenge which centered on developing new habits, like cooking. They input their scores daily, which then populated on the leaderboard. Every week, Ferri celebrated both the individual and team frontrunners, with her swim team coming out on top four out of the five weeks of the competition!
Hear Coach Ferri’s advice on how to stay connected with your athletes here
Head Track & Field Coach | Athens High School, Athens, OH
Coach Gonczy knew the moment spring sports were cancelled, he wasn’t going to let that stop him from coaching and motivating his team. He immediately figured out a way to plan a virtual track meet to keep runners inspired and excited. He also wanted to keep spirits high, so he started sharing daily motivational quotes and images with them. He’s even used social media to get the word out about the virtual track meet; see it here.
Hear Coach Gonczy’s advice on to make connections and keep athletes engaged, despite school closures and season cancellations here
Head Men’s and Women’s Water Polo Coach | Elsinore High School, Lake Elsinore, CA
When school was cancelled, Coach Carroll wasted no time in coming up with a plan to continue coaching and motivating her teams. She held a virtual banquet to recognize her student athletes and set up weekly Zoom calls for both the Men’s and Women’s teams. She also hand-delivered exercise equipment for those athletes who didn’t have access to the necessary equipment at home while offering weekly strength and conditioning sessions with the school’s strength coach. Though workouts and water polo are important to Coach Carroll, she also strives to help her athletes connect in ways unrelated to sports to help them stay in touch with their peers while apart.
Hear Coach Carroll’s advice on how to make connections and keep athletes engaged despite school closures and season cancellations here