Coaches share pandemic experience


Sudden changes to routines, transition to online training and uncertainty about what might happen next. Much like everyone else, Delta College’s coaches have struggled with adjusting to changes which the COVID-19 pandemic has forced upon them.

Preparedness and adaptation

When the pandemic began in March, coaches reacted differently to the situation.

Women’s soccer head coach Adrienne Sorenson was anxious about what might happen and continues dealing with uncertainty.

“There was so much unknown that it breeds anxiety,” said Sorenson. “As coaches, we love being in control and feeling in control of situations. This has been the opposite of that, so it’s for sure been a new challenge and the toughest of my career so far.”

Baseball head coach Reed Peters says he thought the situation was only going to be a short setback and wasn’t expecting COVID-19 to have a significant impact on athletics.

“When it first happened I thought it would be a two-week delay,” said Peters. “Now here we are, a year later, and still haven’t been on our field.”

Adapting to remote training online has been a major challenge for the coaches.

For Peters, adjusting to online training was a hard task.

“It’s been extremely frustrating,” said Peters. “We have tried to send guys workouts to do on their own, find places for them to workout on their own if they choose to do so, and mix in a few Zoom calls. So, needless to say, the adjustment has been difficult for the coaches and players.”

Apart from conditioning, remote training has also affected the way Peters communicates with his players.

“There is no comparison between human interaction and virtual. We are all born to be social. Not only is it harder to coach remotely, but you lack the emotional support these kids need at this age,” said Peters.

Golf head coach Tony Troncale struggles to address the needs of his players from a distance.

“We can’t get together and work on their individual problems,” said Troncale. “It’s hard to communicate exactly what they need.”

Unlike other coaches who also serve as professors at Delta, Troncale coaches part-time and has needed help with remote training.

“I’m an athlete myself other than a coach. I am not a professor,” said Troncale. “I’m a PGA golf professional. I’ve turned to becoming a school teacher and I’ve needed assistance.”

Despite the difficulties of holding online training sessions, other coaches have managed to adjust fine to the change and continue supporting their players.

Sorenson said she and her players adapted well, and sees training remotely as another test for her coaching ability rather than an obstacle.

“Coaches are always finding ways to adapt and overcome and we are certainly always preaching to our athletes to do so,” said Sorenson. “We always have a ‘no excuses’ mindset and that was absolutely tested.”

Despite training from a distance, Sorenson has also managed to consistently interact with her players and tries to help them as much as she can.

“I definitely feel I’ve managed to keep my relationships with the players strong through this time,” said Sorenson. “I’m checking in with my players regularly on workouts and just to see how they are doing. We chat about soccer news too, I’ve had awesome in-depth convos [conversations] about the U.S. women’s national team rosters, Premier League, Champions League and we even chat about shows on Netflix. They know I’m here for them daily and if they need to talk about anything or need help with literally anything, I’m here.”

Routine changes

Coaches have seen their daily routines change since restrictions were put in place last March.

Apart from coaching and teaching, Sorenson also has to keep track of her children’s education.

“My daily routine is completely different,” said Sorenson. “I’m trying to work full-time from home with my duties as head coach and kinesiology professor while doing distance learning with my kids.”

Peters has turned to teaching in the morning and doing leisure activity in the afternoon. 

“My routine has changed a lot. Mornings are dedicated to online teaching. Late afternoons have moved to golf to try and maintain some sanity.” said Peters.

The pandemic has also had an emotional toll on the coaches.

Sorenson is disappointed at the fact her team is unable to play and practice together.

“Not participating in competition certainly has affected my mental health negatively, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t,” said Sorenson. “I am a competitor by nature and I love what I do, so missing daily competition at training and games is super tough. More than that I miss my players daily at practice and on campus so much.” 

Troncale misses getting together with his players as a group and assisting with their development.

“I miss the camaraderie with the team and teaching these young adults to become athletes,” said Troncale.