Fields, tracks and weight rooms across the state sit empty as spring sports coaches and players stay at home, hoping they will be able to get back out and play the sports they love.
With social distancing policies in effect as a result of the Covid-19 guidelines, coaches are unable to meet with their teams and players are forbidden from congregating in groups to train.
That is leaving players to workout on their own, preparing for a season they are not even sure is coming, in isolation.
“Unfortunately state regulations have restricted any organized gatherings, both from the CIAC and the government itself. We do stay in touch and keep players and families informed, but with facilities closed to the public, all athletes are really forced to manage their own fitness training and skill workouts remotely,” Darien boys lacrosse coach Jeff Brameier said.
“Nobody has really truly experienced something like this and it is obviously taking its toll on the world and certainly sports have felt a huge impact from the COVID-19 battle. Our hearts go out to all affected by this deadly illness and we look toward the day where we can join together in spirited competition again.”
While many coaches are leaving it up to the players, some coaches and athletic departments have been contacting students through texts, emails or videos, keeping abreast of what the players are doing to stay fit should the seasons be played.
While they are not allowed to gather with their teams, some coaches have begun setting up training sessions which are being sent by email or text.
Some have been sending videos of things the players can do while others have been considering getting together via live group video sessions like those on Zoom, Face Time or Google Hangouts if the CIAC will allow it.
“We are on a group text together. I have sent them some at home workouts they can do,” Weston baseball coach Geoff Brencher said. “Players have sent me videos of their swings for analysis and I have Face Timed with one player to discuss swing mechanics and things he can work on.”
Simsbury, Stamford, Stonington and several other schools have been posting workouts and drills players can do on Twitter for spring sports, winter sports or just for general fitness.
They are nothing formal, but more along the line of suggestions or challenges for students who are now doing distance learning.
“We have an activity log that we can all see and edit. We’re also sharing different workouts with each other. The idea is to motivate each other and hold each other accountable,” Stamford softball coach Melissa Giordano said. “I’m also sharing my daily activity with them. Everything is done virtually and all activities can be done individually, many in your own home.”
Others have created videos players can watch, though all coaches stressed, nothing is mandatory and players are free to work out as they choose.
“We are doing individual running workouts, body weight workouts, wall ball and individual shooting activities,” New Canaan girls lacrosse coach Kristin Woods said. “I reiterated how important it was to not meet as a group until further notice. I want every player to focus their efforts on individual skills and fitness. Our coaches provided the players with individual drills from multiple lacrosse websites. We also sent out a dozen running workouts and a body weight workout from our assistant coach Madison Straus who is a personal trainer.”
At St. Joseph in Trumbull, the health and wellness director and athletic trainer have set up workouts for the spring athletes which they can do as part of their distance learning for school.
“Our health and wellness director, who the girls worked out with since September, has set up a Google Classroom platform for them to follow from home for their own personal workouts,” St. Joe’s softball coach Jeff Babineau said. “This way they can have some structure in their workout each and every day. As far as softball, we have told them to workout at home to keep skills up. Our school is adamant about no gatherings whatsoever. Most of these kids have nets or something to hit into at home in their yards. Me, I’m practicing fungos in my back yard!”
All of the coaches contacted for this story reiterated the importance of following social distancing guidelines as the best hope for returning to the fields this spring.
“Our school is following the guidelines for preseason practices which means no organized coach or parent led practices. We are also following the recommendations from the state, school and federal government about social distancing and group activities,” East Lyme girls lacrosse coach Phil Schneider said. “I have not provided any recommendations for workouts for the team. At this point, they are on their own. I have contacted them with some motivational and positive messaging to let them know that I am thinking about them, that we are all in this together and we will get through it together.”
“I have communicated with our captains. I have been waiting to hear the CIAC’s decision on the Spring sports season before engaging in a more formal Zoom session with the returning varsity players,” Fairfield Prep baseball coach Rudy Mauritz said. “The directive at Fairfield Prep is that as long as school is out and we are in virtual learning mode athletics and other extracurriculars are on the back burner. I believe for the good of society we should be adhering to the CDC’s and State of Connecticut’s guidelines on social distancing and the players should do what they can at home.”
Getting through it together, while not actually getting together, is a new challenge for Connecticut high school coaches and athletes.
Their goal is just to play, at all.