CLU Sports uses social media, texting, Zoom to stay in touch

Regals+Water+Polo+players%2C+Jay+Clerou%2C+Bethany+Metcalfe+and+Mackenzie+Thomas+faced+off+in+the+new+game+show+series+Who+Knows+Who.

Contributed by Ryan Jorgenson

Regals Water Polo players, Jay Clerou, Bethany Metcalfe and Mackenzie Thomas faced off in the new game show series ‘Who Knows Who.’

Vic VonBerg, Reporter

As the pandemic continues, universities everywhere are scrambling to keep their operations running as smoothly as possible. Athletics departments especially face challenges as sports inherently require in-person activity and communication to thrive.

In a Zoom press conference on Feb 5., California Lutheran University’s Sports Information Director Ryan Jorgenson said he has initiated a few different features on social media including a YouTube game show called “Who Knows Who?” and an Instagram/article series called “Where Are They Now?” which showcases what student-athlete alumni are up to now.

“I’ve gotten a lot of alumni stories and I’ve heard back from a lot of alumni how much they love reading those stories,” Jorgenson said. “They’re like ‘oh I haven’t thought about that person since I was at CLU’ so it’s just cool to know those stories, so long as they keep coming, I’m going to keep getting them out there.”

Continuing to foster the relationships between athletes, coaches, and trainers plays a part in Cal Lutheran athletics department’s ability to stay relevant.

In the press conference, Athletics Director Dan Kuntz said, “we feel that yes, the circumstances have made it very difficult, but the relevance… our institution still sees sport as an educational component of what we do at this school.”

Kuntz said the coaches are using every modality they can, whether it be texting, calling or Zoom, to stay connected and available to their athletes.

“The contact has not ceased. We’ve been very much in contact with individual athletes, coaches, groups, trying to help them understand that this has been a long break in training and preparation is important to the health and safety, as well as performance,” said Pat Holmberg, Senior Director of Strength and Conditioning and Athletic Performance, during the press conference.

Cal Lutheran’s athletics department continues to push to keep in contact with current athletes as well as prospects.

“I have to commend our coaches and our athletes. They’ve had to endure many months of trying to stay connected. Most of it virtually, I mean, they really can’t be in front of each other,” Kuntz said. “They haven’t been able to be, as we’re working through it right now. It certainly has been a huge challenge.”

As the athletics department is preparing to safely resume in-person sports, they are also working to provide competition coverage to fans, if applicable and if possible.

“We’re working with our media folks, trying to see how much streaming we can do to at least provide access for people to see contests, at least as much as possible within the technological abilities we have,” Kuntz said. “Certainly some venues, we don’t have the ability to do as much. Golf off campus or if we’re doing tennis it’s a little bit difficult. At the pool, we get some challenges there too. But we’re working on those things to see what we can do.” 

Kuntz said parents may be allowed to attend their senior athletes’ last competition. However, there are no fans permitted in person for any non-conference games this year.

“We’re hoping that we have a fairly safe return to play and the athletes will enjoy their experience this semester irrespective of competition or not competition,” Holmberg said.

Kuntz commends the athletics department, student-athletes, coaches and trainers alike in keeping sports relevant and staying in contact by whatever means possible.

“We value our students and what we do with them and what they do as future leaders in their own way and also in their studies,” Kuntz said. “I think this is kind of the holistic look of what we’re trying to do to keep them relevant, to keep relevant sports within the educational realm of the university.”