SHERIDAN — Coaching is not just about success on the playing field. It is also about building relationships with athletes through day-to-day interaction and helping students grow as athletes and people.
With suspension of spring activities, coaches of spring sports are restricted to limited interaction with their athletes.
“As a teacher and as a coach, it is hard because we are in this business because we like kids and we want to, in many ways, speak life into kids and impact their lives,” Sheridan High School girls soccer head coach Kevin Rizer said. “It is difficult to do from afar.”
Meets, tournaments and games make their way into the record books, but success is found during the daily interactions with the student-athletes, which is why Rizer coaches. He thought about moving his teaching career to the college level, but Rizer did not want to lose the daily interaction with a large group of students. At the college level, he would only have daily interactions with a few students.
The daily practices for athletes can be the most enjoyable part of their students’ day, and for cross-country head coach and assistant track coach Art Baures, his daily interaction with distance runners were a highlight of his day, he said.
The loss of practices is difficult for athletes and coaches alike, Baures said.
“We put a lot of time in with them and we have a great connection with the athletes,” Baures said. “It is hard when there have been so many positive things and we really looked to continue them through the spring. We are still hopeful we have a track season left.”
The boys cross-country team and indoor track team won state titles this school year and the distance runners have a chance to sweep all three running sports if spring sports return to Wyoming.
SHS track coach Taylor Kelting said going from daily interaction to no interaction has been a tough change for everyone involved. Spring sports had one week of practice before the suspension started.
The first few weeks of practice were important for developing a coach-athlete relationship and building a foundation for the rest of the season.
Indoor and outdoor track at Sheridan High School do not have the same students participating on the two teams. Some winter sports athletes join the outdoor team and some indoor track athletes join the other springs sports offered at Sheridan.
It is a new team for athletes to get used to and the first few weeks are used to unite the team, Kelting said. Athletes can still train but building chemistry can be difficult.
Rizer said his goals for the first few weeks of practice were to have the players transition back to playing soccer and regain their familiarity with a ball. As the team played together more and ball control was established, the team would slowly learn tactics for the season.
Personal development continues for SHS soccer players, though. They are able to practice their touches on their own, going through controls drills, juggling the ball and using a wall to aid with passes and shots, Rizer said. There are other ways the team is still trying to build a bond with each other.
Rizer has been communicating with the team through the Remind app, sending workouts to athletes and helping them stay in shape. Some messages also remind players not to regroup at other locations, such as Dairy Queen, but mostly Rizer is trying to send positive messages to the players.
“This is a time to remember what is important in life,” Rizer said. “We have been sending out some of those messages to encourage girls to help out in their family and to enjoy time with their family they normally would not have. Trying to speak to more than just soccer or high school.”
Kelting said track and field athletes receive messages and workouts through Hudl. Coaches and athletes send feedback to help track their progress, but daily coaching is not there. Athletes are not receiving real-time coaching on their technique and form.
Baures said for distance running, the times he is receiving are good feedback but it is not the timeline he prefers. He is not able to make adjustments to the workouts that are needed, whether it is increasing distance or time.
For events that are more technical, athletes are receiving videos from coaches highlighting different techniques Broncs and Lady Broncs should try to emulate during their workouts, Kelting said.
For now, coaches are adapting to the situation of only digital interactions, hoping for a chance to return to the spring season and mentoring athletes.