Spring is leaving and summer is arriving. This leaves a couple of months until the moment of what can potentially be a step back to normality for athletic events.
Moundbuilder football is looking forward to a new and improved season.
Head coach Brad Griffin said, “I sat on a KCAC meeting for a bit and they are coming up with some potential layouts where if we get to some point, then they will do this.”
Builder football finished last season winning 5 of their 10 conference games. Due to COVID-19, the team was cut short of a spring season, losing what would have given them accurate input on what to target come fall.
This called for creativity.
The team has found ways to prepare for the future without necessarily needing in-person contact. Trevor Strong, defensive end coach, said, “We’ve sent home workouts that you can do without weights to some just to keep those guys active and making sure those guys are doing what they can with the time that is in front of them.”
Griffin said, “Obviously not having the contact part of it all is tough. All of our coaches have met with their positions and installed all of our plays and all the things we would have if we were going through spring football.”
The coaching staff said given times like this pandemic, communication is critical in persevering.
“We meet with our guys at least once a week. We’re talking football and things like that but usually, the majority of the conversation is about academics” said Strong.
Griffin said that the zoom meetings have been highly beneficial and not even for the athletic aspect of football, “it gives the guys a chance to see their teammates.”
With a sudden transition, Strong said it isn’t easy in this situation and access to education is more difficult for some given virtual learning. “Internet connection might not be as great for a zoom meeting, or some kids have their laptops in their dorm rooms still and they’re staying back home. They might be writing a paper on their phone. It’s just those kinds of things and fighting through those challenges.”
Remaining optimistic is something Builder football continues to do. Although the team is on an extended summer, recruiting remains a top priority.
Griffin said that not being able to come on campus and enroll is an obvious concern, but admissions and people across campus including advisors have done a tremendous job with staying in contact and enrolling future students.
Adam Jenkins, vice president for enrollment management, said “anytime there are changes of this nature it is hard for everybody.”
The partnership between athletics and admissions has made the process of enrolling easier during the pandemic.
“Like anybody right now we had to get creative. I feel like that is every institution when this thing surfaced has quickly implemented ways and resources to talk to students and try and make it as normal as you can” said Jenkins. “We’ve used a lot of outreach that we normally do and try to scale that up and do more personal touches.”
Individuals can also schedule an individual appointment with the admissions team. Jenkins said prior to the pandemic students would meet with a professor or other components. Given social distancing, admissions now schedule those visits through zoom or FaceTime.
With new opportunities, Jenkins said contact with futures students actually is pretty balanced compared to times before spring break.
Although barriers have been faced for athletics and the admissions office, Griffin said given these hard times, the team has still managed to put together a solid recruiting class.
“Being the timeline of how football works with the national signing day in February, for the most part, we have probably 90% of our incoming freshmen class pretty much done” said Griffin.
Strong said, although they have most of their recruiting done, not being able to meet with later recruits face-to-face is a drawback due to the lack of a personal feel and comfort. “How do you convince a kid to spend money on a private education when maybe those things at home are a little shaky to what they were a couple of months ago.”
As having the college in a healthy state is a top priority, Griffin said he is most concerned about the well-being of all individuals given the conditions.
“The mental health part of it more than anything else. Being able to have those relationships. The hugs, the handshakes, the high fives, being able to sit down and talk one on one. I’m concerned more about that for our guys, coaches and everyone.”
Athletics, admissions and the college is remaining resilient.
“I think our main goal remains fixed as it always does. We want to enroll in a good class for college. We want to enroll the kind of students we’ve been seeing and basically keep it moving” said Jenkins.
“We talk about goals all the time and I think right now it’s very hard to visualize that and remember there is certain goals that we placed in front of us as a team and as individuals” said Strong.
Strong said, just remembering, “what you do today is going to set you up for tomorrow” is essential in overcoming this time, and bouncing back come fall as for the Southwestern community.
Daegiona Wilson reported on this story from her home in Wichita.