BGSU football continues to operate as closely as possible to normal while they, like everyone else in the country, shelter in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It hasn’t been easy for them, but they are managing through the use of technology and trust in one another.
When the players first got the news that the school would be going to online learning for two weeks after spring break, the news didn’t hit that hard, as they thought that they would all be back in three weeks. But as the situation evolved and the school made the decision to shut down for the rest of the semester, the difficulty of the situation dawned on them.
The team was only able to get through three of their allotted 15 practices in the spring. Adding to that, the players weren’t completely prepared to not come back for the rest of the spring, meaning some equipment such as cleats, that could have been used at home for training, were left at Bowling Green heading into spring break.
For redshirt senior long snapper Gabe Skrobot, this was no excuse to not be able to work hard throughout the unfortunate circumstances.
“My dad has always said that if you aren’t working hard then there is always someone working harder than you. So it’s kind of that motto. When you are home it is not a time to slack, it’s a time that you can get better and find the positives out of it and I think a lot of our teammates have,” he said.
The Falcon football program has taken that motto head on, with daily meetings over the video call app Microsoft Teams, workouts and nutrition plans based on individual player needs and of course, watching film in order to improve.
But the fact that all of the players must do this with no face-to-face supervision can be worrying for the coaching staff, including the director of operations for the team Olivia Passey.
“I think every program has that worry to some extent, even with your staff. Inevitably I think when people are home you are less productive, I am not someone that personally believes in working from home. It’s definitely different and anyone that says it’s not is I think lying,” she said.
Having 18 to 22 year old athletes have to work at home under their own power isn’t ideal for any team looking to get better. Especially when the team and staff are together for almost half of the day.
“It’s obviously much harder because you relinquish a lot of control as opposed to when players are here you have a lot of control. We are with them half of the day and that’s not even including our strength and conditioning and nutrition staff going over to the Oaks to monitor their plates, that’s not including the lifts and the weight room,” she said.
Motivation to work isn’t the only problem either, having the equipment to workout properly can also be a problem as well. Every player has a different home situation and because of this Passey and the staff have to find more creative ways to keep their players making progress.
“We kind of have to tailor it to what they have at home, but that is a massive, massive difference. I mean you invest a lot of time and money into making sure that you are giving your players the best equipment and the biggest weight room and whatever it may be and then they go home to having nothing in some instances, so you have to reshape the way that you are working them out,” she said.
While this all seems like a lot of negatives, there are positives too. The time away from each other has helped the team learn to operate more efficiently with technology and Passey believes that this will benefit the team even after this is all over.
“I look forward to when things are back in order to see how things have evolved in terms of going paperless and having the ability to meet virtually instead of always having to meet together,” she said.
Being away is still difficult for everyone though even beyond football. In this team atmosphere players develop a routine together throughout the week. They practice, eat, and workout together. This routine has been essentially halted in place, with no way of regaining it in the near future. Having that part of your life essentially uprooted can be tough, especially when it comes in the sudden fashion that this all did.
What keeps the players going is focusing on what it is going to be like when they get back.
“Really the motivation is to be better for the team and work towards next season. It doesn’t matter if I’m on campus or I’m home the goal is still the same. I’m just working to be better than I was last season. No one wants to be the guy that didn’t work hard and lets the team down when they get back to campus,” Gabe Skrobot said.
The future for all sports may be uncertain, but the goals of this BGSU football team are clear. They want to improve on a lackluster season from the year prior, and this separation from each other is just another hurdle they have to clear.