AUSTIN, Texas — To say the times in which we’re living are unprecedented would be a serious understatement. The current pandemic crisis has affected everyone, from the obvious medical ramifications to closing of virtually all schools coast to coast and either modified ended employment for millions.
The ramifications of the virus have, of course, reached just about everyone … including college athletes. Even for fall and winter sports, the impact of the current circumstances is far-reaching.
Consider football — this is the time of year when players put in the work that is reflected in their play during the season. In a normal year, spring workouts would be in the books, leaving players to prepare largely on their own for the grind of preseason camp that arrives each August.
But the closing of schools means the closing of weight rooms. Teams are not getting together to run, lift weights or grind through self-coached football drills. Instead, players have scattered, many going home to their families, left to prepare on their own for the start of next season … whenever it actually starts.
One of those players who has headed home is Texas safety Caden Sterns, who is back living with his family in San Antonio. The leader of the Longhorns’ secondary held a video conference interview with assorted members of the media this week, during which he insisted that he doesn’t think the unorthodox offseason regimen means he and his teammates will show up out of shape or unprepared. He said that players naturally prefer working out together, but said there is enough discipline within the UT players that they should be ready to go when called back to campus.
“It’s been a little bit of a challenge, just because would like to be together, but again, I’m very confident our guys are putting their work in,” Sterns said. “We’re also doing a good job with group text, videos, following the workout routine. So we do a good job of holding each other accountable in that aspect. But again, it’s been challenging, but at the same time, safety is the most important thing.”
Sterns said that like his teammates, he is following an offseason routine charted out by football strength and conditioning head coach Yancy McKnight and his staff, and he is making use of the limited strength equipment to which he has access.
“I’ve been home, so when I go home, I’ve got a little weight garage,” Sterns said. “Yancy is really good at what he does, so regardless of what you have, whether it be milk cartons or bricks or something, he’s going to definitely find something for you to get better, and we appreciate that.
“He’ll send us … we’ll get a non-weight workout, whether you have bands or whatever, and then he’ll say, ‘if you have some type of weight, you can get that in.’ He’s been around a long time, so he has some tricks up his sleeve, obviously, that he can use to benefit us, to put in some work. I’m pretty confident in this team. We have a lot of self-starters.”
As frustrated as Sterns said he and his teammates, like athletes across the country, are, they all realize there are greater priorities than normal, structured offseason workouts.
“If we have to do this, obviously, we got to,” Sterns said, “and I’d rather do it this way if it ensures everybody being safe.”