On March 11, following a positive COVID-19 test from one of its players, the entire National Basketball Association shut down and put the remaining season on hold.
This development forced other professional sports to follow suit. Soon after, all collegiate and high school sports had their seasons canceled until further notice, leaving athletes at Salt Lake Community College and across the nation unable to train and practice as a team.
Although nobody could have predicted the shutdown, it hasn’t stopped these athletes; they just had to get a little more creative.
“Pretty much every gym in America is shut down. City parks have taken outdoor rims or backboards off, so nobody shoots on those either,” said Kyle Taylor, SLCC’s head men’s basketball coach.
The implemented stay at home order has impacted student athletes, not just in Utah but across the nation.
Normally, student athletes would work out multiple times a week, both in the gym and at practice. With many local gyms being closed, coaches like Taylor have been encouraging their athletes to stay as active as possible while still following the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The spring is a great time to help players improve. We spend a lot of time on individual player development and helping players grow in certain areas of their game. That can’t happen this spring, which will affect next year,” Taylor said.
In a webinar released by the National Junior College Athletic Association, they focused on the importance of transitioning from coaching to taking a supportive role in the students’ lives.
During the webinar, Jacob Ripple, the athletic director at Dodge City Community College, said, “throw the playbook out the window … it is not a time to be closed minded or shut out ideas.”
Athletes throughout the world have taken to social media and YouTube, creating workout and motivational videos to encourage people to exercise and stay healthy, even with limited resources. One program, titled JR. NBA at Home, features daily videos with players and coaches teaching basic basketball techniques, drills and activities that anyone can do at home.
“We know you may not be able to play with teammates and friends right now, but there are still some ways for you to stay involved in the game,” Memphis Grizzlies player Jaren Jackson Jr. said in a recent video.
Throughout the country, high school seniors are preparing to go to college, but for many student athletes, things like recruiting may be a challenge because they cannot play or show off their skills. SLCC coaches, however, remain busy searching for future Bruin athletes.
Coaches can make Zoom calls and contact prospective athletes electronically in order to fill the open spots on next year’s team.
“My role as a coach has actually stayed the same: to care about, support, and teach the women in my program. It’s the same, just doing it a different way,” said Cyndee Bennett, head softball coach at SLCC.
According to the CDC, regular exercise leads to feeling happier, sleeping better, and improved memory. This can be beneficial not only for these college athletes but for anyone looking for exercise tips during this time of social distancing.
Visit the CDC website for tips and tricks for creating an exercise routine.