"This week in my office I was using coffee cans, I’ve used tire jacks lifting weights, filled a backpack to do some squats, I was using a broom handle to get good position on front squat.”
All that, plus a camera has been the morning routine for Brazos head football coach/athletic director Ryan Roecker in the wake of sports cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With school out of session leading to a lack of in-person training time for athletics as well, the trick to staying connected with a team has moved all online the same way many things have gone in the social distancing era.
Roecker posted himself performing workouts on Facebook and Twitter every day last week for athletes to take advantage of in their newfound spare time. Of course, not everyone has the same access to weights but he said that most of the exercises are to keep the mind and form right, more than anything.
“I’m in it, now I’m gonna make the best of it. I can’t be doing my 500-pound squat that I was doing before but I can still stay mechanically fluid and work on my flexibility and improve on something else that maybe I wasn’t getting a lot of work on before,” Roecker posted.
They’re not only made for the 500-pound squatting high schooler but also designed with athletes in elementary school in mind as well.
“We’re trying to put exercises that any wide range of athletes, heck even down to our fourth and fifth graders can do,” Roecker said. “That was one of the things that we’ve done this school year is kind of streamline our PE. Our fourth and fifth graders are learning more athletic sports than just PE and then our sixth grade was pre-athletic.
“So,” he continued, “even all the way down to our younger ones, they’re able to do some of these exercises. That’s why we haven’t changed the name of the exercises because (all of the kids) know what they are.”
That same sort of consistency is showing up with the one who constructs the workouts, offensive coordinator and powerlifting head coach Ryan Almon.
“A lot of it is variating things we’re already doing in our workout so how can we take what we’re already doing,” Roecker said. “We don’t necessarily have the weight, but now what kind of functional workout can we do?”
It has been so well received that even adults have mentioned running through the workouts themselves since it’s right there in front of them to use.
“We’ve had parents and community members that have made comments that they’re going to do the workout too,” Roecker said. “The physical part is just as good for you mentally. If anything, that allows you to get your mind off of what’s going on for a little bit of time.”
Not only he, but others on the staff have been in contact with their athletes, partly because the internet makes it so easily accessible.
“I know the track coaches have passed along workouts for their kids as far as sprinters and long distance,” Roecker said. “I know (softball) Coach (Brad) Nilius has done a good job on Twitter giving different challenges to his girls as far as hand-eye coordination and things they can be doing at the house with tennis balls where they’re getting to work on different skills.
“It’s definitely been a collaboration of our coaching staff rising to the challenge at hand,” he added. “I just get to be the dummy on camera.”
At the end of the day, he feels this adjustment is one in a line of many that coaches have become accustomed to dealing with.
“It’s also, to me, a testament to coaches,” Roecker said of the online workouts. “We’re always per se outside-the-box thinkers to begin with. We’re always problem solvers; we don’t get bogged down, we look for an answer and how can we best do it. To a degree, I think we were kind of built for this as far as adapting and overcoming adversity.”