The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the lives of many. As implications and guidelines are established many people have had to change their normal routines and patterns, including Oakland University coaches.
Steps OU is taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are encouraging everyone on campus to practice personal hygiene, wear face coverings when working in enclosed public spaces and maintain a six foot social distance from others when working on campus. They are also encouraging the OU community to fill out daily health screenings.
Woman’s head soccer coach, JuanPa Favero, said he is following the university and state guidelines very seriously so his athletes can play in a safe environment.
“We are all using gaiters or masks and disinfecting the soccer balls after every training session,” Favero said. “We don’t let the players touch the cones and the equipment,” Favero said.
Rob Beam, head volleyball coach, has been implementing a process of aligning the federal, state, local, NCAA, Oakland and health professional rules in order to create a safe playing environment for his athletes.
To keep his athletes safe, Beam has implemented a number of protocols to help mitigate the spread COVID-19 — including the separation between athletes, the sanitation of all equipment and mandatory masks.
According to the CDC, masks slow the spread of COVID-19, because they help keep people who are infected from spreading respiratory droplets to others when they cough, sneeze or talk.
Through these new protocols, the coaches have faced a number of challenges in order to keep their practice routines running smoothly.
Favero, who prides himself on his communication skills as a coach, said he has had to limit some of the more personal interactions he shares with his athletes.
“I am a very communicative coach and very relational in what I do — that’s a big part of how I coach,” Favero said. “I have had to limit my proximity to players.”
Beam has faced these challenges by developing a practice routine that reflects the current reality.
“I have spent more time focusing on skills and behaviors that are not specifically volleyball related,” Beam said. “I want to create a gym environment that has the right vibe-a mixture of movement, energy and communication that feels good, that is fun to be in, and establishes important norms for resiliency, camaraderie and leadership.”
Favero and Beam are both aware of the circumstances and have been putting in an additional effort to ensure the athletes stay motivated and focused during times of uncertainty.
“We are all going to be really flexible mentally and adjust to any situation that comes our way,” Favero said.
In order to explain in-depth to his athletes, Favero uses the analogy of a game being delayed due to bad weather. Favero explains that while waiting for the game to resume, an athlete has to remain focused with the same mindset toward a pending season.
“You have to remain focused in the sense that you have to assume that the game is going to resume,” Favero said.
Beam says motivation to him is about two things: trust and expectations. Beam uses these to keep his athletes motivated and looking toward the future.
“You have to work on building rapport, a depth of connection between all members of the team, so that when the time arrives to take action, everyone is on board,” Beam said.
Through all the challenges, Favero and Beam are happy with the way their athletes have handled these challenging times.
“I am proud of my team because overall our team has done a really good job at trying to comply, trying to be careful and trying to minimize unnecessary risk to be exposed,” Favero said.
“Implementing and navigating through change is invigorating for me and so I have found the bright spots to focus on as it relates to our team. If anything, this has allowed for an even better training period and I am proud of how our student athletes have confronted the challenges,” Beam said.