Last updateMon, 18 Jan 2021 7pm


Changes to Football Practice Amid the Pandemic

Changes FootballMonmouth University - The Monmouth Hawks Football team is ready to anticipate a season this upcoming spring in replacement of the cancelled fall season due to COVID. Players and administration have taken measures to balance social distancing and develop a successful team simultaneously.

Prior to COVID, players and staff had one designated locker room and players could use the training room at any time prior to practice. Due to social distancing concerns, the structure altogether has been altered.

Kenneth Marsaglia, Head Football Athletic Trainer / Sports Medicine, explains how things have changed as a result of COVID. Marsaglia said, “We have split the team up into three locker rooms to create more space rather than having 100 players all in one room.

Taping/bracing for practices have also been split up into groups of three rather than having a rush of people all coming into the athletic training room at once. We have also made another taping area to use to decrease the number of people in one area at once.” Although there is no longer one set locker room where teammates can spend time together and hang out, it is a measure the Hawks are taking to ensure their safety and the safety of other students on campus.

Coach Lewis Walker, Defensive Backs Coach said, “I personally feel like the team loses the entirety of brotherhood bonding that would normally happen in a closed space like the locker room. There is no longer contact between players and coaches on a daily basis in meeting rooms, which is where we get to know more about our player outside of football.”

Due to the team being split up into separate groups, developing the team as a whole becomes more challenging. Coach Walker explained how COVID alters the way coaches can teach their players. Walker said, “Coaches are not allowed to meet with the entire position group in person if there are more than 10 student-athletes, and even when you meet you have to be spaced out and wearing face masks. This complicates the learning of the entire group because certain players don’t get to hear the same questions they would if the entire group were together. Secondly, practice has been altered for spacing when on the field so logistics have been changed from the normal operating systems. Another thing that is affected by COVID in terms of practices are the strength and conditioning side of things. We are to operate with smaller groups during the workouts. For a football team, this is where leadership shows up big time with guys holding others accountable.”

Personally being a player I found that it was easy to meet up with a coach and go over any confusion from practice but due to COVID it is a bit more complicated because players benefit from in person coaching and there is a stronger understanding rather than over a zoom call where coaches are limited to a screen to coach a player or explain what a player did wrong.

Coach Andrew Kirkland, Linebackers Coach said, “It is harder to develop players under the circumstances COVID has made in the traditional sense. It is more difficult because lifting and meetings have changed as well as team bonding but I do think that it is still possible to still develop players. Before COVID started, recruiting became more about social media than in person. I believe that the younger generations have more of a handle on social media and we as coaches have to utilize that. Now more than ever we watch more and more film via online film and people are posting more drill tapes on social media to allow kids an opportunity to get better at a craft. It may be harder to get bigger, faster, stronger together but in order to develop players we must develop other parts of their game even more.”

The effects of COVID have not been a complete loss, the effects have helped the team.

The process of preparing for practice is more organized. Trainers now have more one on one time with each individual player and can fully focus on each of their needs to get players properly ready for practice. Marsaglia said, “The different structure of taping/bracing players for practice has been much more efficient than in the past, we are able to spend more time with each player who needs to be taped or requires a shoulder brace or knee brace or hip wrapping,

etc., due to the extra time that is being given to us from eliminating position meetings in the morning and by splitting up the team into groups of three for taping sessions.”

Trainers have found the measures taken due to COVID are beneficial to the team as a whole. The Hawks test for COVID weekly to make certain everyone is clean on the team and will continue to do so to ensure the safety their school and season.

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth Athletics

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Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151