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

I can honestly say that I never thought I would ever be writing something like this. But who would?

Just two weeks ago, I was preparing to travel with our women’s basketball team to New Orleans to play in the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference tournament. There was so much promise for our team, which a year ago was 7-23 before turning the tide this season and producing a record of 19-12.

But in an instant, that opportunity was gone.

Now, what feels like two years into this lockdown, we are in a new norm of social distancing and stay-at-home orders. A new norm of home offices and limited contact with our staffs, coaches and student-athletes.

The home office has already been an adjustment for me. I never thought I would have to constantly motivate myself to stay on task as a result of being feet away from my couch and TV. What’s even harder is trying to get up to go to work when I can see work from my bed.

And speaking of work, how do we keep our social media platforms up to date with the most recent and creative content while also being sensitive to what’s going on around us? That’s the million-dollar question that I am sure is keeping most of us in communications up at night.

We’ve come up with a few answers:

  • Historic look backs.
  • Calls to action to support local businesses during this unprecedented time.
  • Ragin’ Cajuns Zoom backgrounds.
  • Videos of our student-athletes staying “connected” across the globe.
  • Spotify playlists of our baseball team’s most played songs at home games.
  • Timely updates from our athletics director, Bryan Maggard.

The biggest challenge I have had to deal with is not being able to see our communications staff, coaches and student-athletes.

The saving grace of all this, though, has been the ability to use Zoom and FaceTime to stay connected. And it isn’t just for work functions. I cannot begin to express the number of times that I have video chatted with my friends from work just to say hi. It’s all that we have to help flatten the curve and keep any sense of normalcy.

Our staff talks on Zoom twice a week — once on Monday to discuss our plans for the week and again on Friday to recap what we have done and get updates heading into the weekend.

However, while Zoom has been a necessary and welcome form of communication, it also has presented an interesting challenge on how we as athletics communications professionals approach supporting the media.

With the social distancing orders in place, serving the media while keeping our interview policies in place has presented an interesting situation. We have conducted multiple interviews over Zoom, but it definitely is not ideal.

Our staff has adapted to the new reality of Zoom interviews and the changing course of social media by trying to stay ahead of the curve through constant discussions, as I am sure many of you have. On the flip side, we also are trying to continue with a sense of normal to keep our fans engaged with what our teams were able to accomplish over this past athletics year.

Through all of this, my biggest resource has been my friends around the country who are struggling with the same issues. We are dealing with something that there is no playbook for. There are no guidelines for what we are experiencing.

But what we do have is each other, and that alone will help us navigate this difficult time.

Stay safe, everyone!

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