Just like the rest of us, Drinkwitz dealing with virus fallout
So often, coaches and athletes are off in their own worlds. What they do every day isn’t like what the rest of us do every day. There’s a barrier between the men (and women) in the arena and those watching.
But not right now. Right now, they’re just like the rest of us. In the world that has been taken over by COVID-19, we’re all the same.
“We’re all dealing with unique and individual challenges,” Missouri head coach Eliah Drinkwitz said during a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. “I’m trying to make it as normal as what office hours would be.”
Last week was a little different. With Mizzou and Columbia schools on spring break, Drinkwitz “was catching film in between nap times or taking the girls outside and letting them play.” Coaching is a profession notorious for its long hours in the office and time away from home. But these days, there is no time away from home. Home is the office and the office is home.
Drinkwitz and his assistants are scouting 2020 opponents. Most of the players are back home, though some do filter in and out of Columbia at various times. Any contact with them is done via video or phone calls. They are conducting virtual team meetings now and again thanks to a relaxation of the rules by the SEC.
“We talk to our team, don’t just get through, get something out of it,” Drinkwitz said. "There are going to be things we get out of it, whether it’s a deeper relationship with each other, whether it’s just developing our own sense of identity or whatever it may be there is going to be something come out of this.”
Like virtually everyone as the positive tests continue to climb, Drinkwitz said there have been people around Mizzou football and its team members impacted.
“Do we know people that have CV-19? Yeah we do,” he said. “And we know that they’re in a fight and they’re gonna pull through. It’s affected all of us.
“We’ve got members of our team who have got family members who are first responders who are nurses, who are people out every day. We’ve got people that are on the supply line chain. We’re in this fight.”
Like everyone else, Drinkwitz simply is trying to do what he can to lend support.
“That’s our job to check on them and make sure they’re not alone,” he said. “I think the toughest part of what goes on with CV-19 is the isolation, the quarantine, being by yourself and seeing those walls close in on you and not sure there’s anybody else out there fighting with you. Just let them know, we’re fighting with you, we’re there in the battle with you and whatever we can do…we’re there for them.”
But perhaps unlike most of us, Drinkwitz has a platform. When you’re an SEC football coach, people tend to listen when you talk. He was one of the first coaches to put out a message on Twitter asking fans to stay home and emphasizing social distancing. He has been a consistent presence on social media communicating to his fans and followers.
“I think any type of adversity presents a great opportunity for you to meet that challenge. Every day you control two things: your attitude and your effort,” Drinkwitz said. “I don’t necessarily know that we’re going to know all the positive ramifications or all the positive things that have come out of this CV-19 until we get through it on the other side. Once we get through it, we’ll look back and say man these were such good things that happened.”
Drinkwitz has perhaps even more of a vested interest in this fight than most. His brother is a hospital administrator in Joplin. He has a sister who is a nurse and another who is a physical therapist. His mother-in-law is a nurse and his brother-in-law is a pediatrician.
“I’ve got the health care world covered,” he said.
So far, he says all the members of his family remain healthy. Because of those family connections, he has, perhaps, a deeper appreciation for those on the front lines of this particular battle.
“Any time you see people come together, you see people say thank you to nurses and doctors and supply chain people, I think that's all positive,” he said. “I do want to say thank you to all the health care providers and all the supply chain people that are keeping everything stocked except for toilet paper. I appreciate the work that they’re doing.”
Working from home and searching for toilet paper. See, college football coaches really are just like the rest of us.