How York College coaches are using technology to keep in touch with athletes
Being stuck inside with little interaction can be tough for anyone, says Evan Scheffey ’09, Head Coach for Men’s Soccer at York College of Pennsylvania. For athletes who once spent nearly every day either working out at the gym or practicing on the field with teammates, the adjustment can be especially tough. “The guys have their summer workout packets,” Coach Scheffey says. “But when I check in with them to see how they’re doing, we’re talking about a lot more than soccer.”
Coach Scheffey and other coaches aren’t just taking on the role of coach when they do these check-ins with students. They’re making sure students are keeping up with coursework, are adjusting to being home all of the time, and are ensuring their mental health stays in check as much as their physical health. “I tell my athletes to overcommunicate,” Coach Scheffey says. “Whether they need clarification on assignments, are struggling to find workspace at home, or don’t have the tools they need, we want to know so we can help them.”
Adapting to new circumstances
Duane Bastress, Head Wrestling Coach/Strength and Conditioning Coach, uses the GroupMe app to check in on his players. He has also talked to the team through Zoom calls and plans to do a few of those during the summer. While many athletes are keeping up with workouts at home, often finding it as a good outlet for stress, some of the students don’t have all the tools they normally would use at the gym or on campus. One student, for example, didn’t have a pullup bar, and Coach Bastress helped him find alternatives.
When the season abruptly ended for Head Softball Coach Kaitlyn Dulac and her athletes, she made sure to keep communication open as they headed home. While she jokes that she should have invested in Zoom months ago, Coach Dulac is using the tool to keep in touch with coaches and students. Her players often coordinate workouts together via Zoom, and many of her coaching staff members are following up with students a few times a week. “We’re all doing the best we can with unfortunate circumstances,” Coach Dulac says.
‘Keeping the team culture moving’
Katie Fost, Head Field Hockey Coach, isn’t letting the COVID-19 outbreak impact her coaching style. “To be honest, the only thing that COVID-19 has prevented us from doing is playing as a team out on the field,” she says. “We are still able to focus on becoming better people, teammates, students, leaders, and athletes while at home, and that has been a consistent message during this time.”
Her team met four times a week online during the spring nontraditional season. Twice a week, they talked about what it meant to lead, compete, and be a member of the program. They also met in small groups and had individual check-ins, as well. “In our group conversations, the message is really focused on being the best teammate and competitor you can be,” she says. “We have open and honest conversations about this and set up weekly goals to strengthen our weaknesses.”
The other two days a week the team competed against each other in physical challenges. Coach Fost also set up weekly competitions to keep the young women driven. She saw the regular conversations, and following up on those conversations, to be the key to keeping the team culture moving in the right direction. “COVID-19 hasn't taken away our ability to live out our culture; it's just taken away the ability to physically be with one another playing out on the field,” Coach Fost says. “We can still prepare and build every other aspect of the program from home, and that's exactly what we are doing.”