“Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.” – Mike Singletary

Unfortunately, Jesuit athletes don’t get the opportunity to play their beloved sports this spring season, as quarantine and social distancing has postponed events. Whether it’s hitting home runs at Wright Field or scoring goals on Pasqua Field or practicing rugby on the unnamed back grass field, all athletic activity has been postponed. As such, Jesuit Athletics is having to make changes for the time being about how these programs are going to operate. The Roundup interviewed Jesuit Athletics Director Steve Koch to see how he’s groomed Jesuit athletics’ response to the virus.

Interview with Steve Koch

What steps have already you taken to prevent coronavirus?

“We have closed the campus, which close pretty much all of our athletic facilities down:  The Dell Center (weight room), the fields, and the baseball center. This also includes any activity we have on White Rock Lake for our crew team. So, all of our facilities are shut down in coordination with what the school has done.”

How should athletes be taking care of themselves during this period?

“Most of them that have already been working out and are continuing on our TeamBuildr app that gives them a daily workout. Obviously, we’re having to modify those workouts without having The Dell Center are open. Most of the athletes that are serious about staying in shape are continuing with their TeamBuildr program they get each week from our performance coaches: Coach Sanchez and Coach Sexton. And then, they continue to send out the workouts for all the athletes during this time. The athletes fill in what they’ve done and continue to log in their workouts, so they can adjust their workouts accordingly to their coaches.”

Have you been talking to specific coaches? Or have you asked them to send specific messages to their players?

“I’ve been in touch with all of the coaches weekly, and then each coach is trying to at least make one contact with each program. I should say that, because for example, football is divided. There are 200 players, and each position coach contacts his players. So, each program is trying to make contact with each athlete in his program. [They are] at least trying to do it weekly to find out how things are going, to make sure e-learning is going okay for them, and to find out if there’s any problems or issues that they need to talk about or let us know about so that we can try to help them.”

Is there a specific time frame for when athletes can play sports again or is it still uncertain?

“It is still uncertain. It probably won’t be until the school reopens the campus or until the city or state government relaxes some of their shelter-in place conditions that are going on. The UIL, which governs about over half of our sports, has not come out yet on if and when they are going to try to get athletics going again in the spring.”

If you had one thing to say to a Jesuit student-athlete right now, what would it be?

“Well, to our seniors, I would say I am sorry. I know none of them planned their senior year and certainly their last semester to go this way. My heart goes out to people on the crew team, the lacrosse team and the bowling team, all of these teams that were in the bulk of their season. To have it end this way, to those seniors, my heart goes out to them, and it’s just a learning experience that things in this world don’t always go as you plan and sell. A lot of things are out of your control.”

“To our underclassmen, I would say that we’re going to get through this. Stay focused on [your] schoolwork. Stay focused on staying in as good a shape as they can. We will get through this together and have a lot of great days and times ahead of us in the future.”

Maintaining Health & Fitness

Despite the long separation from athletics, Jesuit coaches still emphasize for athletes to keep their fitness up, because the season could start again at any point. For some sports, coaches have sent individual, more personalized workouts tailored to their sport. For example, Coach Charlie DeLong, Jesuit’s varsity soccer coach, has been sending Will Coerver’s soccer drills for players to practice their footwork and ball control.

The grind doesn’t stop for Jesuit athletes, and it’s up to each one of them to keep working out. Clayton Jackson ’21 agreed, “He’s just been checking in on us making sure we are all good, because they haven’t cancelled yet.” Similarly, Josh Ryanboldt ’21 remarked, “For hockey, he has been checking up on us. Sanchez have been doing some home workouts on Teambuildr, and I do those from time to time.”

Checking in on Players

Coaches have been also checking up on athletes’ mental health during this time, as they cannot see their teammates at school and practice anymore. For most, it’s been difficult, as our ways of life have been heavily disrupted, but we are still in this struggle together. Solidarity is key, not just for players but also for patients directly affected by the virus.

Coach DeLong also advocated for his players to help their community around them, “The list of things we can do to help is endless. We can e-mail, text, Snapchat, facetime, etc. The power of these communication devices cannot be measured. From within our homes we can reach out to a great many people. People who may need food, people who may need someone to go get food for them, people that may need money to pay bills, people who may be alone and need to know that there is someone who cares.”

Check back to The Roundup for more coverage of Jesuit’s response to Covid-19.