Coaches discuss adjustments during pandemic

Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Southridge coach Mark Rohrer, who is waiting from direction from the IHSAA, is hoping things work out and that he’ll have some time to work with his players.

BY JONATHAN SAXON
jsaxon@dcherald.com

So much has changed in the past couple of months. The coronavirus closed schools, stopped work for many and canceled a season’s worth of sports. As the spring season passed, Indiana and other states across the country are working toward reopening things for business and getting back to the life the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted. But there are still many unknowns, chief among them being what a predicted “second wave” of the virus could look like.

It’s because of the unknowns that local coaches will have to get creative when it comes to summer workouts. The Indiana High School Athletic Association won’t allow any organized team activities through June 30, so that means limited time through July and August for any kind of offseason program. Still, there are some who are working with what they have.

Forest Park boys basketball coach David Welp is leveraging his digital assets to make the most of the time. He’s conducting Zoom meetings with his coaching staff and using Google Classroom to send workout plans the players can do while keeping themselves as safe as possible.

“We’re sending our players videos of workouts to do,” Welp said. “Two days a week of weight lifting and agility exercises they need to do. We’re also sending out basketball activities. They could do some ball handling drills. If they have a goal at home, they can get up some shots.”

Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Forest Park coach David Welp is communicating with his assistants via Zoom and his players via Google Classroom during this time.

The original plan was for the Rangers to host basketball camps for middle school kids, hold open gyms for workouts and fit in some scrimmaging to help put everything together. Now they’ll have to adjust and fit in what they can in July and August before activities for fall sports pick up. It’s not a situation Welp could have predicted he would see as a coach, but having the tools to connect with players virtually has given him options.

“I wouldn’t say it’s been tougher,” he said. “It’s just that we have to change how we are communicating with each other. Our players are used to using Google Classroom. That’s what they use in a school setting, so it’s the perfect platform to use. It’s just a different way to go about it.”

Southridge boys basketball coach Mark Rohrer points to a bigger picture of how the pandemic is affecting the summer months. He participated in a department meeting Monday night with the other Southridge head coaches where they discussed how to go forward. Looking toward what the NCAA does and how it handles recruiting activities became a major point of emphasis.

“There’s still some waiting game on things from the top down,” he said. “What the NCAA decides to do trickles down to what we think the IHSAA will do. Then you get into your coaches association and what they envision the month of July to be like.”

The NCAA issued a statement on Tuesday canceling both sessions of the College Basketball Academy, and also said they would look into the recommendation of the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association to extend the recruiting dead period to July 31. The current dead period is set to end after May 31. The College Basketball Academy was scheduled for July 20-26 before being canceled.

But with all the uncertainty, Rohrer brought it back to a major point — it’s about what’s best for the kids. A lot of coaches will be vying for July to get in work with their players, even the spring teams so their athletes don’t have a near two-year gap before 2021. Finding their place in the juggling act will be key once the activities start back up.

“If I get two days a week with the basketball guys, that would be great,” Rohrer said. “Even if it’s just a day of practice and then a day of some controlled scrimmage, that would be perfect for me.”




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