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The New Normal How COVID-19 is impacting life on and off campus for NCAA members

I’ll look back and remember March 11, 2020, as the day the sports world came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our season ended Feb. 28, and our end-of-year meeting was on the calendar for March 11. As we moved closer to our meeting day, it was clear that our sense of “normal” was going to change and change quickly.

It was important to adjust the agenda of our meeting from typical end-of-year talk (year in review, one-on-one meeting times, end-of-year dinner, spring program, etc.) to helping our student-athletes think about moving home and transitioning to online education.

Later that evening, my wife, Sara, and I watched as the NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz was called at the last minute due to a positive COVID-19 test for Rudy Gobert. Immediately thereafter, the NBA suspended its season.

Life changed quickly and dramatically — cancellations of the NCAA basketball tournaments, Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, and spring sports on high school and college campuses. Much of sport and life was put on hold.

Like any basketball player facing pressure, we had to pivot immediately.

My transition to a “new normal” includes several moving parts. The balancing act includes a spouse who also finds herself working from home, three children (ages 13, 11 and 9) learning online, and my own work responsibilities and rhythms.

My transition to a “new normal” includes several moving parts. The balancing act includes a spouse who also finds herself working from home, three children (ages 13, 11 and 9) learning online, and my own work responsibilities and rhythms.

The 2019-20 season was my first as the women’s basketball head coach at my alma mater, Calvin, an NCAA Division III school in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I’ve been coaching in some capacity for 20 years, and I’ve grown used to late winter and early spring being made up of a variety of things: bouncing around to open gyms and AAU practices, staying later at the office a few nights to host recruits or watch our spring teams compete, and traveling on weekends for tournaments and shootouts.

“Reentry” is a term we use at home as we reacclimate to more time together as a family in the postseason. This year, my dinner-at-home streak surpassed 40 consecutive nights — a new record! I miss face-to-face time with my coaching colleagues at Calvin and the ability to see our players around campus. And yet I’m grateful for unexpected time with my family and the ability to check on local relatives, neighbors and friends.

Connection is different right now but incredibly important.

I have created a weekly schedule of staying in touch with my Calvin athletics department colleagues and our team. I still use a paper/pen planner, and this helps me create a weekly communication list and plan my days. Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams and FaceTime have been lifesaving applications for “face-to-face” time and connection. End-of-year individual meetings with each member of our team were conducted virtually and went well — certainly better than nothing! It’s vital for me to continue to regularly check in as the lives of our student-athletes have changed so much in a short amount of time.

One of our program values is authenticity — living in the moment with conviction and confidence.

I’m learning how to do that better during this uncertain time. I have two podcasts that have been helpful to me: Jon Gordon’s “Positive U” and Brené Brown’s “Unlocking Us.” Tish Harrison Warren’s book “Liturgy of the Ordinary” has been a great resource for me and my wife as we seek to parent well and lead our family during this time.

Living authentically takes practice; we still must choose our mindset each day. Through March and April, I have felt real disappointment some days and have worked to turn that around and bring joy to others as much as possible. As a coach and a leader, I strive to live each day during this unknown period working to be better for my family, my team, our Calvin community and our local community.

It’s been important to remember and remind myself that it’s not going to be perfect. I’ve been teaching a golf class online at Calvin this semester. I know it is not going to be perfect, but I pray that students can see that I’m doing my best for them.

We are people who crave ritual and routine. I have attempted to create a workday routine that involves communication with others, physical activity with my family, carving out space to get my daily work done and appropriate rest.

We continue to pray for all those who have been directly affected by COVID-19, the health care workers and other essential workers who are on the front lines, and our nation’s leaders in all facets of life, learning and governance.

Stay safe, stay positive and believe!

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