Shippensburg University athletes are caught in a state of limbo and are prohibited from having direct contact with any of their coaches regarding workouts until May 8.
Michael Lingard, junior track-and-field runner and Student Government Association (SGA) male-athletics senator, announced the NCAA-originated regulations at last week’s SGA meeting.
The regulations forbid athletes from reporting to their coaches on how they are staying fit and ready for whenever sports may return, according to Lingard. Coaches are also banned from giving suggestions on workouts to their athletes.
Lingard said SU athletes have been in this situation of uncertainty since March 18 when the NCAA began to shut down sports due to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“It's been difficult to find motivation at times and create your own workouts,” Lingard said. “Coaches know best and for them not to be able to share their insight is kind of crazy.”
Shippensburg’s strength and conditioning Coach Dennis Kerstetter created an Instagram account called @SU_ironraiders to post a daily workout regimen for SU athletes to try out at home. The account is available to the public, which eliminates direct contact with athletes and abides by the NCAA regulations.
According to Kerstetter, the idea for the account came about as a means to solve a problem. He also wanted to make sure that athletes were performing exercises and drills in a safe and correct manner.
Kerstetter wanted to bring the virtual weight room to a place that was easy to navigate and that athletes felt comfortable using.
The most troubling concern in the big picture is how these regulations and the cancellation of sports will affect athletes’ performance once they begin playing again.
In Kerstetter’s eyes, fall sports athletes will suffer the greatest impact.
“My biggest worry is obviously our fall sports, because they will need to be at a game-ready state very quickly,” he said. “If that is not handled properly, then you can have a lot of injuries.”
From an athlete’s perspective, Lingard is also worried on how the current state of uncertainty could negatively affect athletes.
“Hopefully everyone is finding a way to continue perfecting their craft and not getting complacent,” Lingard said. “If this time isn't used wisely, players will underperform and be injury prone.”
However, Kerstetter and Lingard both agreed the most important thing to do during this time of uneasiness is to stay positive and focused.
“Stay strong and persist. Find a way to stay active and stay in shape. This will come to an end and when it does, we must be prepared to get back to it,” Lingard said. “Use this time to create a strong base, expand your creativity and get better.”
In the end, Kerstetter wants to make sure that he can not only help athletes physically but also mentally and emotionally during these difficult times.
“At the end of the day my number one priority is my relationship with the athletes,” Kerstetter said. “So, whether we are together face-to-face or virtually, I can still do that part of my job.”
Once the spring semester ends on May 8, SU athletes can directly communicate with their coaches and hopefully regain a sense of normalcy.