COVID-19 Impact On Goldey-Beacom Athletics

Photo: Goldey-Beacom College

The many unknowns of the coronavirus have made its impact deadly and drastically changed everyone’s lives around the world.

COVID-19 would start to arrive in Delaware around March where the state would be in lockdown, as almost every industry closed down in the state except a few which were deemed essential jobs.

As everything came to an abrupt halt, the education industry had to think quickly on its feet as K-12 and colleges were shut down. To continue to educate students, teachers would have to teach online than face to face.

Most colleges already had online courses pre-COVID-19 but with the pandemic, everything had to be transitioned to remote from student resources to courses that were not already available online.

College athletics were in their spring season as the virus impacted the state but the implications were far too deadly to allow student-athletes to continue to play during this pandemic.

Delaware is currently in Phase II of our “new normal” but for colleges, it is still unknown what their new normal will look like as they had into their fall semester.

We talked to Goldey-Beacom’s Sports Information Director Derek Crudele and some of the college’s coaches to hear what adjustments they have made in their job during this pandemic.

Goldey-Beacom’s Response As COVID-19 Impacted The State

Around early March, the coronavirus would start to impact the Mid-Atlantic states which would include Delaware. As all businesses and colleges in the state were following the deadly virus in the weeks and months before it started to impacted Delaware, the first case confirmed case in Delaware came on March 11th.

Delaware Business Times’s Katie Tabeling reported that the first confirmed case in the state was enough for Goldey-Beacom to see that face to face classes would have to transition to remote learning for the safety of the staff and students. Tabeling also mentions “that the college had a training session for the faculty the next day with showing how to use all the existing online tools.” The quick thinking of Goldey-Beacom officials worked as the school was able to transition all classes to remote learning by March 16th.

Dr. Monica D. Tarburton Rysavy who is the Director of Institutional Research & Training at Goldey-Beacom told the Delaware Business Times, months before the pandemic hit, the school prepared how-to-videos on how to use the college’s online learning management system to make it easier for the students to get a handle of it.

As Governor John Carney’s stay-at-home order went into effect on March 24th, it would mean GBC would have to close but the college would still find ways to keep their students in the loop of what is happening with the school during the pandemic.

Goldey has been using their social media accounts to give their staff and students real-time updates of news of the effects of the college due to COVID-19.

Other resources the college have been using to keep staff and students updated on the latest of the virus is their website and Goldey-Beacom created a hotline to answers any questions students have. The school even hosted a Zoom town hall for students to make sure they were adjusting to life in this new normal.

COVID-19 Impact On College Athletics

On March 13th, the college spring season would come to an abrupt halt for Goldey-Beacom as the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference announced all athletic events would be canceled for the remainder of the year due to the pandemic.

The day before the CACC announced the athletic season was over, Goldey-Beacom’s student-athletes were notified the day before which the college’s Sports Information Director Derek Crudele explained.

“I had just returned from Goldey-Beacom’s home women’s tennis match on March 12 against Delaware State when I learned a meeting was going to be held in the gym at 5:00 pm. The only other time meetings take place in the gym is during orientation when the student-athletes return, so I knew something was going to happen.

The something seemed inevitable, but not certain in these new uncertain times. The NBA had suspended play the day before, the NHL followed suit earlier in the day and I got a text alert the men’s basketball tournament involving my alma mater was canceled. This meeting was for international student-athletes and how they should prepare.

But prepare for what? Would everything be canceled? Would it just be a suspension until further notice? Anything was possible. Then, just before the meeting started, I found out what the student-athletes were preparing for. The 2019-20 athletics year was over.”

After finding out the season was over, Crudele had to make sure the student-athletes had everything they needed to continue their studies or anything else before they left the campus of the college.

As a sports information director, you go into a different mode. The number one priority remained the same as it always is in Division II athletics, student-athlete first. Making sure they have what they need before departing was paramount and I can’t think of one issue that came up.”

After making sure the student-athletes were all set, Crudele had to tell the rest of the hard-working staff that makes the athletic season flow smoothly that the season was canceled.

“Next was making sure all of the people who worked the games were informed, ranging from officials to photographers to our bus company.  The two toughest notifications were to my graduate assistant Natalie Waltz and to the host of the annual Hall of Fame/Student-Athlete Ceremony that I chair, Deerfield Golf Club.  Informing Natalie, who was graduating anyway at year’s end, meant I would be working less with someone who has been a rock star in helping this office move forward.  Informing Deerfield meant we as a department would not be sharing one of the special nights of the year with our student-athletes.

No Face To Face, All Zoom

In the pandemic, face to face communications with staff, family, or friends have mostly been wiped away and replaced sitting on a computer talking to them on video conferencing app called Zoom.

Goldey-Beacom Athletic department is no different as Crudele describes the difference of human interaction at the office then just talking through a computer screen to the people he works with.

“What I miss most is the people.  We have had Zoom meetings, but it is not the same.  Having people in my office or talking to people in their office always has meaning.  This is way different.  Staring at a computer screen does not have the same feel nor does it have the same sense that you are doing right by the student-athletes.

Much of my job is working with others who help our student-athletes.  This ranges from the coaches, to our business office, to the communication center, to maintenance and the list goes on.  That does not exist and emails between everyone does not make everything seem complete.”

The Goldey-Beacom’s SID explains how even the celebrations for the student-athletes accomplishments this year felt a bit different from doing over Zoom and instead of face to face.

“We had Zoom celebrations every day for a two-week period to honor each team with a roughly 30-minute ceremony, followed by team and individual accomplishments mentioned on social media (@GBCLightning) and the web site.  But an emptiness existed.  It wasn’t like being there in person to see the student-athletes win their awards.  It wasn’t like being there saying goodbye and good luck to the seniors.  Different was tough to accept.

Virtual senior day ceremony ( courtesy of Goldey Beacom)

The office where employees work has become dramatically different these days too, where the desktop computer in an office is now a laptop on your on wifi in your home. Crudele talks about the adjustment from working on two desktop computers at the college to now working on a laptop computer at home.

“I am a workfast person and while I am appreciative of having a laptop at home, it does not compare to the faster, two-screen desktop in the office.  So a job I knew I could get done in x amount of time now takes x + y.  There is no time to be frustrated and no time to ponder when you are getting back.  I have been doing this job for 20 years and know what has to get done, and so it does.

Coaches On How The Pandemic Changed Student-Athletes Lives

The Goldey-Beacom coaches that coach spring sports were surely disappointed that the season came to an abrupt halt but the most important thing was the health, safety, and well-being of their student-athletes during this deadly pandemic. Also, for student-athletes, it was a bit of a change to transition to remote learning from their own home. As the coronavirus impacted Delaware, a lot of the student-athletes schedules changed as well, as they took on more responsibilities at home by just working more or helping their family with different things.

Goldey-Beacom’s baseball coach Tom Riley describes the adjustments his team has made during this time as education transitions to online, communication with each other is through Zoom and even through this difficult time they are staying hungry and positive to come back better than ever for next year.

“These are challenging times for student-athletes, parents, coaches, our nation, and the world. This pandemic changed our daily lives extremely fast. It’s been a lot of adjustments and communication at this point in time as far as the appropriate steps our student-athletes need to take to try and keep themselves safe, and continue to develop as students, athletes and members of society as we have transitioned into online learning from home. The guys in our program always make the choice of focusing on what we can control and staying in the present moment. For our guys, the current moment consists of being the best sons, brothers, friends, and teammates they can be during this time whether they are working construction, doing DoorDash, or helping out at home. Guys that want to continue to improve are very creative and it’s been fun seeing videos of guys working really hard at home so that when we get back together they have continued to improve their games. Zoom calls have also been a great tool. We met regularly for about a month after the shutdown to keep some consistency until slowing down to give guys time to work and prepare for finals. We are excited to start those back up again soon to help ease the transition of our freshman into the program. Our program had taken a big step forward this year before things were shut down and that has been very hard for guys unable to show everyone just how good we were. While much is still uncertain, we have a hungry group of guys that are looking forward to taking another step forward as a program this coming year.”

Another coach we had the chance to talk to was Goldey-Beacom’s women soccer coach Dan Frick while his team might have not played in the spring, it does not mean it did not affect their scheduled practices and off-season schedule. Frick talks about how the pandemic has made coaches get creative on how to keep the team engaged through communication through Zoom. One of the more creative things the team does compete on Zoom through a game-based platform called Kahoot where the team is quizzed on different aspects of the sport. The team also has been using this time to watch old game film and knowing that sports will be one of the biggest forces in the recovery of the COVID-19.

Frick also mentions how not only did college student-athletes lives changed but high school athletes lives changed as well. The Goldey-Beacom College women’s soccer coach talks about how girls soccer in high school is usually played in the spring but was canceled to the virus. The biggest thing these student-athletes missed is their proms and graduations which are highlight moments ending your high school life.

“Under the new COVID-19 conditions, we’ve had to recreate ourselves as coaches and think outside the box.  Zoom calls have replaced practice and timed runs have been our competitive outlet.  The entire sports landscape changed when the world shut down and student-athletes have been some of the people most affected.  As a coach, I work with both high school aged and college players.  The ones that missed out on the most are the ones in high school – senior prom, graduation and in Delaware, the girls play their high school season in the spring – so it’s been especially tough on them.  You feel for the players that miss these once in a lifetime experiences and hope that you can be a part of the rebuilding process. “

Once a week, our teams meet on Zoom calls where we catch up on current events, workout ideas, and share stories.  For Goldey-Beacom, we have to host them at 5pm on Friday nights because we have students in Norway and Australia.  During these calls, we’ve started using Kahoot as a competitive tool; questions include different aspects of the sport – including the rules of the game, tactical strategies and the history of women’s soccer.  This has been one of the few ways athletes have been able to compete – which is something we are sorely missing.

As we plan, it’s important to appreciate the past and watching old game films has replaced the fast-paced sports world we were once used to.  Times have changed and when we return to normal – just like in 2001 when our world changed – sports will be the cornerstone of our recovery. “

The Unknown Of The New Normal

There is so much that is unknown about the coronavirus as we find out about new symptoms and ways to slow down the transmission of the virus which with that is it hard to have a regular schedule anymore. Businesses, colleges, and sports really cannot plan months ahead or even weeks because there is no timetable when the virus will finally be contained or when a vaccine will be available.

As Crudele explains that normally during this time he would be preparing for next year but the athletic department and the college, in general, do not know what the year will be like to due to the pandemic.

“The frustrating part is that at this time, I normally am preparing for the next year. We don’t know what next year will be like. I, along with other administrators at the College, are preparing as if the year will begin the scheduled date of September 3 so we can push/scale back things once dates change. The date of return will arrive at some point.

I have opinions I have mostly kept to myself regarding a return/restart date and speculating is not a bad thing considering what could happen when certain milestones dates are reached (return to work, student-athletes return to school, etc…). It is going to be a sprint once everything is in place and I have more of a marathon sense, making sure work carries thought. “

Even in this new normal, not all is lost as Goldey-Beacom does have some exciting additions coming to campus as Crudele told us how the college has a new dorm (Franta Hall) is near completion. The college will also add a dining area and a new meeting area in between the two main buildings (Jones Center and Fulmer Center).

These are frustrating and challenging times but Goldey-Beacom’s SID knows how much the student-athletes rely on him which keeps him going through all of this. Other SID’s from other colleges have also help Crudele during this pandemic as they all try to figure what life is going to be like in the new normal of the fall 2020 semester.

“The adjustment has been tough and I have been bouncing off the walls in my condo. But keeping in mind our student-athletes and knowing my work helps them reminds me I have the best job. Zoom discussions with other SID’s have been a massive help in seeing what other schools are doing. In the end, we are all in the same boat trying to keep moving forward in what we call the new normal.”

The timetable of when Goldey-Beacom will go back to the traditional campus life is unknown but one thing is not unknown, that the student-athletes have dedicated hard-working staff making sure they will become well-rounded students and athletes in a remote setting or not.

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