On Wednesday morning, Incarnate Word coach Eric Morris despatched his gamers a three-minute video wherein he spoke about conserving a constant routine amid of a set of unprecedented circumstances.
For Morris, that course of comes naturally. Working from house this week with UIW’s spring football apply shut down in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Morris begins every day with an enormous breakfast — typically bacon and eggs — at 7 a.m. After a bit of studying, he clicks by means of some movie from an inventory of about 80 potential recruiting targets, then switches to reviewing a few of this yr’s UIW video games. After that, he holds one-on-one conversations with a few of his assistants and gamers.
When the Cardinals opened spring apply final month, routine and consistency have been highlighted greater than ever. Morris considered these issues as the reply to issues about discipline that led the Cardinals to 5 straight losses to shut 2019. Practices have been extra structured, and every session was the identical because the final.
But when UIW and the Southland Conference suspended all athletics exercise earlier this month, the whole lot modified. Saturday was presupposed to be the Cardinals’ spring sport, culminating a run of 14 practices in the course of the earlier 5 weeks. Instead, UIW is trying again on the first week of a brand new regular, with gamers taking courses on-line and listening to from coaches solely remotely.
“You just have to stay consistent in different ways,” Morris stated. “We’ve been talking to them about routine in these videos. Making sure we’re getting up at the same time. Having a morning routine. Doing your classes early in the morning. … Have a plan, and have a list.”
After UIW closed the season with a 52-35 house loss to Central Arkansas, Morris stated his group was “not very disciplined” and promised, “That’s something that’s going to change.”
He stated UIW’s “ego got too big,” including that he was going to “tighten some stuff down” from day after day, hoping the change would mirror on the sector in 2020.
That course of gained steam when spring apply opened Feb. 23. Morris let apply circulate freely throughout earlier seasons, however this spring’s classes have been agency with the timing of every drill.
“We did the same thing, every day. Every time that we had practice, it was the same schedule,” defensive finish TJ Wright stated. “We used to do a lot more sudden change and, ‘Oh, we’re going to flip practice and keep us on our feet.’ It was definitely a lot more structured.”
Even with out coaches on hand to implement a every day rhythm, Wright stated he’s tried to maintain the message in thoughts.
This week, Wright began every day with breakfast, a distance run and a few calisthenics. After a brief relaxation, he studied for the Medical College Admission Test till an alarm on his telephone alerted him that his on-line class was beginning in 10 minutes.
“That organization and structure that I’m trying to carry on from the spring really helps me get through all of this, and that’s what the coaches have tried to talk to us about,” Wright stated. “Keeping that structure and understanding that discipline is still something that can be very, very prevalent in this time.”
Replicating the bodily element of apply has been difficult, as most gamers now not have entry to a weight room.
The Southland Conference this week allowed packages to offer student-athletes with voluntary house exercises, and Morris stated he and his workers are creating movies of body-weight workouts that may be carried out anyplace.
In the interim, Morris inspired the gamers to remain lively by any means, even when it’s “doing curls with a paint bucket or whatever a kid might have around his house.”
“For these kids, it’s such a shock for them for their lives to completely change,” Morris stated. “That’s not always good for their mental health. So, we’ve encouraged them to first and foremost be smart and be safe, and listen to our government and what our restrictions are right now. But at the same time, it’s not, ‘Stay inside and play video games for eight hours a day.’ Let’s get out and get a little pushup circuit in, and get some exercise some how, some way.”
Morris stated every coach is assigned a bunch of 5 or 6 gamers to maintain tabs on every day, and Wright stated every place group has its personal textual content thread.
Part of that communication has been making certain every participant has a cushty residing scenario with UIW’s campus largely shut down. Morris stated the varsity’s administration supplied computer systems and web entry to student-athletes who in any other case couldn’t full on-line courses.
“That’s probably what gave me the most anxiety in this whole entire process,” Morris stated. “Some of them are going back to bad situations, and they’re going back to homes where with them not having a job, it’s going to be hard for them to be able to take care of themselves.”
The Cardinals accomplished seven practices earlier than the shutdown, however only one with full contact, Morris stated. Entering his third yr on the helm with a bulk of the roster returning and his coordinators and system unchanged, Morris stated a full spring apply was much less important for UIW than many different packages.
The classes have been sufficient for transfers Jacob Kibodi, a working again from Texas A&M, and Tre’Shon Wolf, a receiver from UTEP, to face out, however not sufficient to seek out solutions within the trenches or decide winners at numerous place battles, together with quarterback.
Though UIW’s early begin to spring apply means the Cardinals held extra classes than most different packages nationally, Morris stated he expects the NCAA will take motion to make sure each program has the identical alternative in the summertime or fall.
“You hate not being around the kids,” Morris stated. “You hate not having the offseason program, making sure they’re lifting and training the way you want. But at the end of the day, I think it’s going to be a pretty even playing field.”