SEP coaches reflect on spring sports in a COVID-19 world


Adam Hensley, Particular to the Register
Revealed 9:39 p.m. CT Could 4, 2020


Southeast Polk girls’ track and subject coach Chad Willeford needed to verify this 12 months’s group remained optimistic and prepared with plans spring sports activities would resume as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic handed.

The Southeast Polk ladies observe group took third place within the state’s 4A state observe meet for 3 years working from 2017-2019 and was taking a look at one other highly effective 12 months.

Willeford despatched out weekly emails to college students and oldsters, updating them on the season’s standing and any group information.

In a single e mail, he included a quote from Nelson Mandela: “One can’t be ready for one thing whereas secretly believing it won’t occur.”

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It’s a mindset the women’ observe and subject group, in addition to the boys’ squad, took on through the time of uncertainty. They needed to be ready, when spring athletics resumed.

However they didn’t.

On April 17, state officers and the highschool athletic associations declared spring sports activities are cancelled for the rest of the season.

“Deep down inside, you type of knew, simply primarily based on the whole lot on the market, that there was an actual risk that we weren’t going to be heading again to highschool,” Southeast Polk boys’ observe and subject coach Jason Nolting mentioned. “When that was introduced, to be trustworthy, I used to be slightly shocked that they’d put an finish to spring sports activities.”

Each coaches had been optimistic their seasons would resume in some unspecified time in the future earlier than the official cancellation.

“I used to be pondering perhaps we would miss some meets up by April, however by Could 1, I feel we may get going and probably have a pair meets, districts, after which our state meet,” Willeford mentioned. “I used to be actually longing for that. However as issues continued, numbers going up, the metrics not flattening — all of the stats the federal government officers give — it simply type of seemed extra dire every time.”

Willeford and Nolting each expressed how they’d excessive hopes for this season. The ladies had been coming off a third-place end at state, whereas the boys positioned seventh final 12 months.

Each Ram squads boasted sturdy senior teams, however neither group acquired a lot of an opportunity to carry out on the dwell stage in 2020.

“My coronary heart goes out to our senior crew,” Willeford mentioned. “They didn’t get true closure to trace and subject. Don’t dwell on the negatives and what we didn’t have. Give attention to the success we did have. For the final three years as a group, we’ve been third place at state, we’ve gained some state titles in occasions, we’ve acquired a variety of enchancment. Give attention to the positives. Higher issues are nonetheless but to come back.”

If something, this season can function a studying device.

It pressured coaches and college students to assume exterior the field, whether or not that was of their exercises or their mindset going ahead.

“I advised the seniors, ‘I hope there isn’t a thought in your thoughts that this entire factor was for nothing,’” Nolting mentioned. “The teachings, the relationships, all of these issues aren’t misplaced on this. None of that’s misplaced.”

Each Willeford and Nolting coach fall sports activities. Willeford coaches girls’ cross-country, and Nolting is among the assistant football coaches.

As of now, fall sports activities look to be on schedule, however lots can change between now and when faculties resume in August.

However the coaches have saved an open thoughts and a optimistic method, simply as they preached to their college students.

“I can’t dwell on negativity or doable disappointments,” Willeford mentioned. “I’ve acquired to maintain that assumption going that we’re going to have this. That type of focus is what we want. Will it occur? I don’t know. That’s one thing I don’t have management over. That reality is, we have now to be ready and able to go. I’ve acquired ladies who’re chomping on the bit to get issues going.”

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