College Athletes and COVID-19 with Daniel Steigert

oats, By Jill Mitchell, Social Media Director

How has COVID-19 impacted you as a coach?

COVID-19 has made me re-think how I connect with individuals. I have always tried to make a one-to-one connection with everyone that’s part of the program, but that has been difficult this year. It’s been hard trying to make that connection.

We did our fall season in small groups, which was difficult, but we made the best of it. It was certainly better than doing nothing. The bright side is, we got to emphasize fundamentals.

Recruiting has also been very difficult. I suffer from Zoom fatigue, as mostly all of our recruiting visits have been via Zoom. I love recruiting and getting to know recruits and the Zoom meetings have been great with each recruit, but nothing beats in person visits and meetings.

It’s also hard for players to visit our campus due to travel restrictions as well. Also, with everyone retaining a year of eligibility, we are now planning on players coming back for an extra year. That throws some wrinkles into recruiting and roster management.

How has COVID-19 impacted your athletes?

This is the million-dollar question. I try to probe our athletes often as to how this pandemic has affected them. I think they’re taking everything day by day. It seems to me they mostly have positive mindsets. They know it will be over. They may not know when, but it will end.

One thing I told them, and I hoped it helped, was that “Everyone is in the same storm, but we’re all in different boats. Let’s make our boat the best boat in the storm.”

My athletes have been staying busy and getting in the gym as much as they’re allowed to, and I hope the small practices we had helped. Outside of the normal routines being changed, it doesn’t seem like much more has changed for them. It’s all just different.

Have you had to change how you motivate your athletes due to COVID-19? How do you keep your athletes motivated given the times?

I relate this to the quote, “We’re building the plane as we fly it.” With all of the news cycles, the positive news we receive motivates them to start working harder and they start looking forward to games. As the news becomes more negative, it seems they lose a little motivation since they think more things will get cancelled. To keep them motivated, I try to provide good news about the future.

How is the mental health of your athletes?

Overall I think it’s good and rather healthy. These kids not being able to really do anything I’m sure is causing a ton of stress and the unknown about the outcome of the future is causing a ton of anxiety.

College males generally don’t talk about their mental health and any issues they are experiencing. While I try to talk to them about it and ask how they are, it’s a hard topic for college males to say if there are any issues. Judging by body language and the verbiage they use, I know they are struggling to some degree due to the circumstances. I can confidently say it’s not anything worrisome, but COVID-19 has had an impact on their mental health because of all of the restrictions they have and the fear of the unknown.

Jill is PracticeHero’s Social Media Director. She’s originally from St. Louis, MO, and currently resides in the Dallas area with her husband, two daughters and two dogs. When not chauffeuring her girls to activities, Jill loves smoothies, clean eating and riding her Peloton bike.

Daniel is a college lacrosse coach for Dominican College, a DII school about an hour north of New York. We met Daniel in PracticeHero’s earliest days. We love Daniel’s enthusiasm for PracticeHero, but what we love even more is his passion for coaching and the integrity he holds for himself as a coach and his players.