Coaches work around everchanging environment

Conditioning is the aim of the game for coaches’ training plans as the fall season is cancelled. Photos used courtesy of

Matthew Chaves, Sports Editor

The coronavirus pandemic has affected all of the students here at Iona, but it doesn’t stop there. 

Iona coaches have been dealing with the everchanging environment in which they have to coach. Plans were set to quarantine for the spring but return for the fall. All of that changed, as did most things in the athletics department, when the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference announced that the fall season was cancelled due to the ever-present COVID-19 pandemic. 

Coaches have been taking different approaches to keep in touch with their teams to make sure they’ve kept in shape. Men’s soccer coach James Hamilton has taken the hands-off, passive approach for his team, only organizing Zoom calls and group chats to make sure his team is safe and sound during the pandemic. 

“We gave them their workout packet that they have for conditioning, and that’s very soccer-specific so we trust that they’re going to be doing that,” Hamilton said via phone call. “It was all geared towards working at home; but some of them, as time progresses, they’ve been able to get out and start training with other people in small groups and what have you.” 

Hamilton hasn’t had a player in his office yet, despite school already starting on Aug. 10. He’s focused on keeping everyone safe and only wants to hold training once it’s appropriate.  

This is a much different reality than what Hamilton had planned for, even with the pandemic at hand. Things were looking fine until the cancellation, when Hamilton’s plans were met with a roadblock. 

“[The plans] have been turned upside down a couple times,” Hamilton said. “It’s not much to deal with, to be honest with you. Just changing your schedule and changing your training plans, it’s nothing compared to what some people are dealing with at the moment.” 

Hamilton is unable to make any long-term plans currently, since so many things are changing. Plans being made now are short term, as the coaching staff takes it week by week, according to Hamilton. 

Hamilton isn’t the only coach being affected by these changes. While the cancellation hasn’t affected it as much, rowing has had its issues to deal with as well. Rowing coach John Boyd has had trouble with keeping the team he had in the spring together going into the fall. 

“Between the men’s and women’s teams, I would think 16% of our anticipated incoming roster has been affected,” Boyd said via phone call. “We’ve had a couple kids who’ve had to basically make the decision that Iona might not be the place for them right now, because financially they would have to go a two-year school or something like that.” 

Rowing is currently missing two men and two women from the team going into the fall, changing the whole team’s composition, according to Boyd. 

It’s been a similar story for golf head coach Sean Burke in terms of checking up on his team. In terms of lost playtime, golf has been hit hard. They lost the spring season last semester and are losing the fall season this semester. 

Luckily for Burke and the Iona golf team, they’re able to remedy their missed games in a simple manner, compared to soccer. 

“What we want to do is that we’ll add a couple of events in the spring that normally would’ve been off weekends,” Burke said. “It won’t be a full one-to-one, but we’ll probably get a couple extra spring events.” 

Despite the extra events being added onto the schedule, Burke doesn’t see his team being affected by it much. Nevertheless, practices will be hindered this fall season, as the only people the golf team has to compete against are themselves, according to Burke. 

Other coaches are focusing on what they can do without the fall season. Volleyball head coach Esai Velez-Perez has been focusing on building up conditioning with his players throughout the fall semester. He hopes that a spring tournament or season will be announced for volleyball, which is usually a fall sport. 

Knowing the shakiness of things going into the summer, Velez-Perez had plans ready and set just in case something like this happened. Despite being prepared, he, his coaching staff and the players were shocked when the announcement was made.  

Some of the most affected on the volleyball team were the seniors, who Velez-Perez felt for. 

“It was a little bit hard to see them sad,” Velez-Perez said via Zoom video call. “It was difficult for me, telling them and seeing their faces…I think, this has been one of my [most] difficult things as a coach right now, in my career…Even worse than a loss.” 

Currently, the team’s goal is to keep in shape while staying on top of their academics, a common focus for many of the teams across Iona athletics, including the women’s soccer team. 

Women’s soccer head coach Todd Plourde aims to keep his team in shape throughout the fall in hopes of a spring season or tournament as well, similar to Velez-Perez.  

Zoom calls, emails and text messaging has been the tale of the tape during this time off from sports, but the lack of in-person practices with each other has had little effect, if any at all, on the team, according to Plourde. The fact that the whole conference is going through it makes it so all of the teams are essentially on the same level playing field when it comes to the situation at hand. 

Teams aren’t cleared to start practicing now, but once they’re given the greenlight, Plourde plans to have his team at 100 percent as soon as possible. Plourde feels his team will be ready when the time comes. 

“We have basically four seniors that will be great leaders and hopefully have us prepared and hopefully battle for our playoff spot in the conference,” Plourde said via phone call. 

The MAAC aims to set up spring competitions for fall sports who’ve missed out due to the cancellation, according to a statement released on on July 27.