Photo by Craig Amoss
Carroll County recently wrapped up its abbreviated indoor season with its county championship meet, becoming the first school system to hold an official county or league championship meet since last winter. We reached out to the coaches to get their feedback on the unique 2021 "indoor" track season and any takeaways as school systems around the state plan for upcoming cross country seasons.
Describe the county championship meet in one word.
- Fast. Dividing into a boys and girls meet was necessary to keep the numbers down. However, the meet moved rapidly with very little recovery time between events for athletes.
- Enlightening. The meet showed that administrators, coaches, parents and athletes working together could make a really positive event happen in challenging times.
- Short! We were limited to two hours for each meet (boys and girls) so it was a bit rushed.
What unique challenges were presented in terms of coordinating not only the county championship and head-to-head meets, but everyday practices?
- Weather, and number allowed into the weight room. We had a time limit to how long we could be outside at specific temperatures. Keeping the athletes warm enough to compete without injury was a challenge. Training within the time limits was also challenging. We were not permitted to use any indoor facilities for hall running, although we were allowed to use the weight room with a limited number.
- Dealing with weather and keeping the athletes distanced from one another. Our group was pretty good about masks, but it was a task having to reinforce mask-wearing to other teams when hosting meets.
How well do you think Carroll County and all of its coaches and athletes handled the indoor track season, in terms of practicality, safety and the fostering of spirit of competition?
- As well as could have been expected. It ended with an A+ event.
- I think it went about as good as it could have gone given the situation and weather we received. It was certainly trying at times and attendance fluctuated due to occasional COVID-19 exposures, but overall it felt safe, especially being outside the entire time. Other than that, not much was different than normal.
- They were amazing. We wanted to give the athletes the opportunity to train and compete under safe conditions; I think the goal was met. At times we may have been a little overly cautious with PV restrictions and with cleaning blocks.
What was your mindset going into the indoor season? Were you looking to hit it hard knowing that there was a chance it could be cancelled at any time? Or was it more laid back knowing that everyone was just grateful for the opportunity to train as a team again?
- I feel like we blended the two mentalities. We certainly pushed everyone like we usually do, but we kept a laid back and understanding tone given the circumstances.
- One day at a time, with no guarantees there would be a next day.
- I was definitely a little more laid back than normal. Going into it I knew the training cycles would be compressed and that the athletes may not reach the progress they would in a normal season. I looked to provide the opportunity to them to develop as best they could. We did the best we could with the conditions that we were dealt. I wish we could have done more.
What were your biggest takeaways from this past indoor season? Did you learn anything that could prove to be a valuable lesson for the rest of the coaches and athletes across the state as some prepare for a fall sports season?
- Be flexible and creative. Just as we, adult coaches, have never coached during a pandemic, our athletes are also in uncharted water. Meet them at their level of motivation. I was definitely more focused on upperclassmen as this might be their last opportunity to compete. Make it fun! If the athletes are hybrid or virtual, they are craving interaction with other people. Pick one theme to focus on. For the distance athletes we focused on pacing. For the throwers we focused on strength and balance. For the pole vaulters we focused on speed and strength.
- The student-athletes had great attitudes and appreciated the chance to participate. Not one complaint the entire season about competing outside, cancellations, reschedules, weather, etc.
- Mindset is everything. This is nothing new for us but I think that with all of the stress and uncertainty surrounding the season, dealing with many things that were out of our control, that point was highlighted. It was important to keep things in perspective and do the best with what we were given.