Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Monday that high schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year. Football isn’t a top priority at the moment, but Coach Steven Jones and his staff still have a job to do.
“It’s definitely a change of pace for everyone. Having to go through the transition of working from home and having to use technology more than we’re accustomed to,” said Jones. “But, overall, I think if we continue to follow the guidelines the medical professionals are putting out, it will pass and we’ll go back to a normal life pretty quickly.”
The Wildcats had spring practice scheduled to start at the end of April. That, more than likely, is out the window now. The Arkansas Activities Association mandated dead period of April 17 is still in effect.
But Jones and his staff are putting technology to good use.
“What we’re doing, right now, is trying to stay on top of our kids and make sure they’re not losing anything. We’ve had such a great off-season so far, seen a lot of gains in the weight room. Our bodies are changing with a lot of good development. Our strength and conditioning is going really well,” he said.
“We want to make sure that everything keeps up. In order to do that, we’re trying to hold our kids accountable at their own house. Coach (Kris) Borosvski puts together a workout and he sends it out to the team. It might be a video. It might be a list of certain things to do. But they have a workout they do each day. We can see if they’ve at least opened that workout up. That’s about all the accountability that we have. We can’t see them work out, but we can know that they have received those plans. We put those workouts together each week.”
The players aren’t allowed to gather in one location, but they do get together.
“Last week we had a team meeting to cover what we’re doing now headed into summer. We’re going to try to have a team meeting every week. Our guys will meet with their position coaches twice a week. All that is happening using video conference technology, either Google Hangout or Zoom,” Jones explained. “We’ve been able to get eyes on our kids, see ‘em and talk to ‘em and start talking a little bit of football. Next week we’ll start catching up with the kids and make sure academically they’re not falling behind. They’re taking care of things in the classroom. As we go forward, we’ll start into our install plan we had for the spring. Although we won’t be on the practice field, we’ll still go through everything on tape with things we had from last year and go through and install whatever’s new for the 2020 season.”
Jones admitted, this new way of coaching will take some getting used to, on both ends.
“It was kind of interesting last week. During the team meeting, we had 78 guys tune in. I met with the kids and I was on my front porch. That’s a lot different. But I was able to get eyes on them and that was great.”
The coaches are also using technology as a learning tool for themselves. April is usually clinic season for the coaches where they attend college practices and coaches’ conventions.
“We’ve been able to use that video technology for that as well,” said Jones. “Last week we had four different college coaches talk ball with our staff. We have a Q and A with coaches and continue to try to learn on our down time.”