This season reminds me of a point that many teams get to eventually, where they’ve put in months and months of practice. Tournament time isn’t too far around the corner, but it’s also not next week. It’s that portion of season affectionately, and sometimes begrudgingly, known as “the grind.”
In the midst of the grind, you need to know where you are, why you’re there, and where you’re headed. If you’re blissfully unaware that you’re in the midst of hardship, it might sneak up on you like a sucker punch. While we don’t always know the “why” behind our hardship, we can know our own purpose for the commitment we’ve made to our team. And it’s important to keep that on the frontlines. Lastly, vision is powerful, and we must continually remind ourselves of where we’re headed. Where there is no vision, the people perish.
"I want to become an athlete of influence!"
What’s different about this grind? Well, pretty much everything. A rigidly structured schedule is normally involved, and it would be full of practices, lifts, individual workouts, and film. You’re with your team (in person). You’re racing from early morning workouts to class, to study hall, to practice, and so on.
Now you’re most likely staying somewhere apart from those who generally would be a part of your everyday life. You have a definite “role” of staying socially distanced and making wise choices. Gyms are closed. So how do you engage with this grind?
That’s a valid question, and we could go several different directions. Our “normal” concerning sports and schedules and life has been completely disrupted. ESPN has quite a conundrum concerning their decisions of what to broadcast.
I do believe, however, that we can maintain the “play” that we love in the midst of this hardship. The COVID-19 pandemic has created other forms of margin that give us an opportunity to still get in the game, but differently.
We want to help equip you to do exactly that because now, more than ever, could truthfully be a time that your team most needs to experience unity. We weren’t created to be alone, and isolation does not set a human being up for thriving in pretty much any category you could list.
Below are some ways that you could use this time wisely to invest in your coaches, teammates, players, family, or others. Various coaches and athletes have contributed to this list, and I would encourage you to consider using some of these while social distancing. While some are team specific, this list is also something that can be used with family, friends, or whoever you are connecting with during this time.
Write a letter.
Many of us are experiencing digital engagement to the max. Split up the people on your team so that each person has someone. Write them a letter (with pen and paper), stamp it, and send it off. Come together once the letters have all been received to share your thoughts and highlights.
Play Show and Tell.
This common activity is a fun thing to do as a team. Keep it vague. Explain the concept of Show and Tell, but leave room for creativity to show up on your choice of digital connection.
Have each person on the team write five different people a letter, telling them the “what” and “why” of your appreciation for them.
While online college classes will eventually come to a close, you could very easily watch a TED Talk, read a book or article, or engage in any sort of educational activity that would collectively build the team’s culture.
Take a hike.
If you’re somewhere that hiking would be a viable option and you can maintain social distance, a hike could be a great time to renew your mind, practice mindfulness, pray, and simply enjoy God’s creation.
Start a movie marathon.
While we certainly want to be vigilant not to spend all of our time on screens, a movie marathon could be a great activity to do with others. Start the movies in your respective locations at the same time, and though you won’t physically be together, this is a good connecting activity.
Take time for fun.
There is an overabundance of challenges circulating the internet right now. Have some fun! Take on a fitness or dance challenge, and pass it on to your buddies. Pull out some of the board games that you have, and play as a family. Fill up a few cups with water, and hydrate through some of these family games. Link: https://youtu.be/U26JnnBWefM
Learn or develop a new skill.
I personally have had more time and opportunities to do some “public speaking” over video, and guess what? It felt weird to stare at the camera, I messed up a lot, and at one point I filmed myself violently overreacting to a bug that flew in my face. Nevertheless, it’s a new opportunity and something that can be developed during this time!
Keep accountability and stay active.
Hop on Zoom for a group video workout, or do something that helps you maintain your physical health. Another fun example would be to google “alphabet workout challenge” and mix it up with your friends’ full names for a week.
I believe we would be remiss if we did not use this time to practice rest and renewal, as there is great value in stillness and taking time to renew our minds and hearts. Though there is great hardship coming from the pandemic, goodness can come from using it to deepen our intimacy with the Lord. Be vigilant, and guard against a new busyness in this season that would keep you from developing spiritually.
Lastly, I want to acknowledge anyone who may have already struggled with feelings of isolation before this fiasco hit us. Isolation can feel dark, lonely, and depressing. I know that sometimes you may be surrounded by people, yet somehow feel totally alone. Maybe this social distancing has only deepened that.
I want to state something that is not by any means new, but that also can never be said enough. You are not alone. God is doing infinitely more than we could ever imagine, and we might be aware of only two or three of those things.
Despite the daily changes we’re seeing right now and constant disruptions to life as we know it, we have a Father whose character is unchanging and whose goodness constantly remains. Because of His past faithfulness, we can rest in a confident expectation of His current and future faithfulness too.
If you are struggling, reach out! And if you are not struggling, reach out! Use some of the items on the list above to care well for yourself and others.