When the University Interscholastic League last week extended a suspension of activities through May 4, one aspect Galveston County high school athletic directors and coaches touched upon was keeping the lines of communication open with their student-athletes.
“We’ve just been trying to keep in touch with the athletes the best that we can, and mostly checking on their health right now to see if there’s anything that can be done, or if they need information, sending them in the direction that they need,” Galveston ISD athletic director Walter Fortune said following the UIL’s most recent announcement.
But, with officials stressing the importance of social distancing when it comes to slowing the spread of the ongoing coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, epidemic, getting messages out is requiring some creativity. That’s where social media has been utilized.
While most local athletic programs have a heavy presence on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, frequently posting motivational messages and sharing program news, those outlets have now become crucial for these programs to get their respective messages out to their student-athletes.
Friendswood ISD athletic director Robert Koopmann was among those making use of social media to reach out to his student-athletes during this period of uncertainty and inactivity, posting a video on Facebook, which was later shared on the football program’s Twitter account.
“The most obvious thing that we can say is that we miss our players,” Koopmann said. “We miss our everyday interactions with our players, helping them get better, and doing the things we need to do to get ready. Our coaching staff is really, really struggling with the fact that we’re … not meeting with our players every day. We really miss our guys.”
In his video message, Koopmann further encouraged the district’s student-athletes to stay active via workouts posted online and enjoy their time with their families.
“We can’t control the future, but you can control your bubble of what’s going on right now,” Koopmann said. “We always say that we want to win the offseason; we want to win this break. We want to be better prepared than anyone in the state as we come out of this break.”
Also addressing his student-athletes via social media was Dickinson athletic director John Snelson, who in a video posted by the football program’s Twitter account assured them the coaches are still there for them and also encouraged them to stay active in a responsible way.
“Social distancing does not mean that we need to hide in our house,” Snelson said. “We need to go outside. We need to go for a walk. We need to do a workout. We need to do some yard work, play some catch, whatever. The sunshine is great for us.”
Dickinson strength and conditioning coach Marvin Welch is one of multiple coaches using his Twitter page to post workouts student-athletes can perform while social distancing.
“You guys have worked so hard, we don’t want to lose everything that you guys have gained,” Snelson said. “We’re staying away from each other now, so we can get back with each other sooner.”