Assistant Coaches ‘navigate through the waters’ of athletics pause

Nataly Gutierrez, Reporter

The ripple effect of COVID-19 shutting down college athletics has resulted in a furlough of all California Lutheran University assistant coaches for the remainder of 2020.

“I’m not there for them physically in the meaning of face-to-face. I’m not there psychologically, and I’m not there for them mentally,” Assistant Coach for the Regals Basketball team, Evi Orologas, said in a phone interview.

Being unable to have face-to-face communication has taken a toll on both student-athletes and assistant coaches at California Lutheran University. Currently, the only approved form of communication between assistant coaches and players are remote: Zoom meetings, emails and phone calls.

“Being a student-athlete is core to that person’s being.”

— Track & Field and Football Assistant Coach Jeff Nikora

“We don’t have real contact with the athletes outside of email threads and Zoom meetings,” Track & Field Assistant Coach Jhad Jones, said in a phone interview. “It’s a bit weird because it’s a different [type] of living than what we [are] used to do.”

Some assistant coaches are hoping to go back to work as soon as possible because working with their players is a fundamental component of their team’s success.

“I found in my experience in coaching many student-athletes over many years that being a student-athlete is core to that person’s being,” Track & Field and Football Assistant Coach Jeff Nikora, said in a phone interview. “When you take away the athlete’s part, the structure, the competition, and camaraderie is very difficult for the student-athlete, mentally and emotionally.”

In the midst of COVID-19, some assistant coaches have a positive mindset about reuniting with their players someday in the future with the proper safety measures.

“Our job is to navigate through the waters; you can’t look at roadblocks and give up,” Swim and Dive Assistant Coach Alex Card, said in a phone interview.

Assistant coaches are trying their best to keep going and be optimistic about the future, despite the situation.

“I think it’s our job as coaches to provide something to the student-athletes as a team, we want to make sure we are moving forward and staying safe,” Card said.