When coaches get benched – Part 1

Published 9:52 am Thursday, April 9, 2020

Coaches don’t just sit around while sports are suspended

The COVID-19 pandemic will go down in not only American history but world history as well as a time when a virus brought almost everything to a grinding halt.
It will be especially be remembered in the sports arena as a time that spring sports, especially at the high school level, were completely benched as senior players weren’t allowed to complete their final year either in whole or part due to the pandemic.
But as much as it impacted the players, coaches were also in the same boat after getting amped up for a new season, making plans for their rosters, and longing to outcoach and outsmart their counterparts.
With the seasons being suspended currently, many may think these same coaches are just sitting on their laurels and enjoying a long vacation break.
That, however, is far from the truth as before these coaches take the field, they are first and foremost educators responsible for teaching the children of the community.
Beginning today, Elizabethton Star Sports will engage in a three-part series on how spring sports coaches at Elizabethton High School have taken off their coaching hats and are busy challenging and engaging their students at home.
Today, Reid Casey – pitching coach of the Elizabethton Cyclone baseball team will be featured.
Casey, as well as the entire Cyclone baseball team, felt good about a third straight appearance at the state level. Now he like the rest of the team sits back hoping maybe for at least an opportunity to compete in a possible district and regional tournament without a regular-season.
“It’s been very hard,” Casey said about being sidelined. “The hardest part is missing out on the relationships with the players. They are the ones that is it most difficult for.”
And while some may think that during this time that Casey along with the students are just enjoying being out of school, that is not the case for Casey and the many other educators in the school system.
“As a school, we are using Google Classroom, so that has been the main source of communication for me,” Casey added. “My students have been getting their work in quickly and we even make some discussion posts to let them tell others what they have been doing to stay active, share recipes, workouts, etc.  It’s been uplifting.”
Casey was asked about any projects that his students have undertaken that have been challenging and aspiring during this time.
“One of the main projects is a Career Exploration/Job Search project in Personal Finance.  They get to experience every aspect of the process,” Casey stated.
“From searching for the job, researching the company, preparing for interviews, writing professional emails, and even accepting the position.  It’s been fun to watch them learn and dig in!”
Another teaching aide that Casey incorporated was using motivational videos that a Navy Seal had prepared.
As most know, Navy Seals are taught to endure long times of isolation and how to adapt their minds to withstand much adversity while in the field. The videos were just another way Casey engaged his students.
“I have been able (with his permission) to share some of his motivational videos that he posts on social media,” Casey added. “He’s emailed them to me and I share them via Google Classroom/CANVAS and ask them to comment and share their thoughts.
“Some are workouts he does and some are how he structures his day to keep a routine close to what it would normally be. I believe the students really enjoyed the video.  It gives them a different perspective and a different voice (other than mine!).”
Casey was asked what the pandemic experience has taught him about being an educator and a coach as well and how he had to adapt to keep communication flowing with the Cyclone pitchers.
“More than anything, it has shown me how much I truly love what I do and how much I miss being in the classroom and on the field with the students and players,” said Casey. “It has also taught me that they are so resilient, tough, and understanding.
“Some of the players have reached out via text to ask about workouts and throwing programs.  We have also had several Zoom team meetings.  I sure miss the in-person interactions with all of them.”
When asked about what message Casey would send to parents who are with their students at home on the importance of supporting and encouraging them Casey said, ” I would say to just be supportive of the students. This is new to all of us and there are going to be some kinks to work out.
“The main thing is to try and keep a schedule, a daily routine and communicate.”
Casey was also inspired by the support that he has received as an educator and encouraged parents to keep an open line of communication with teachers.
“I have had wonderful support from a few of the parents that I have communicated with. I would say to just reach out with any concerns or questions. Communication is so important. We’re all on the same team.”
Educators must also continue the learning process and there is no doubt this event will create new learning experiences and lessons to be shared for years to come.
Casey was asked what he has gleaned from the COVID-19 pandemic that he will share with future students and teams 10 to 15 years down the road.
“This will go down in history and be talked about forever,” Casey commented. “I can say that the old cliche of “don’t take things for granted” will be the lesson.
“A school year or a sports season can be taken away so quickly. I hate this so much for the seniors. There have already been so many things they have missed out on.
“I know they miss their friends and teammates,” Casey continued. “Personally, I will take this time to remember how amazing our students and athletes truly are.
“When your playing career is over, wins and losses seem to take a back seat to the relationships created and tough times overcome together. This is a tough time for them, but they will come out of it strong.”
Part two of the series will feature Elizabethton softball coach Kenneth Hardin on Friday.

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