Lacking Assistance

Sports teams learn new ways to train without key members of the program

Maria Lewis, Reporter

COVID-19 Regulations for sports teams are evolving. Alongside having to keep six feet apart from teammates, teams can only have one coach present during each practice session. For some programs, that means losing the majority of their coaching staff.


All MIAC gameplay was postponed until January 2021. However, the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference released a statement on August 31st saying, “All MIAC teams will maintain the institutional autonomy to practice, train, and conduct other athletic-related activities throughout the academic year in accordance with NCAA and campus protocols”.


One issue with not being able to have assistant coaches at practices is the ratio from coach to player. In the 2019-2020 season, the Hamline softball team had 18 players on their roster with six assistant coaches to help train them in practices and games. 


“The big difference for us when it comes to not being able to have any assistants with us at practice is that the players don’t get as many reps. Instead of three coaches throwing batting practice at the same time, it’s just one,” Jim Rubbelke, Head Softball Coach said. “Or being able to split by positions and having a coach work with a certain position group and getting many more balls to field is a drawback”.

A Women's volleyball game with a Hamline player about to spike over the net
Melanie Hopkins Carter

Senior Madison Hurrle spikes the ball past two defenders in a home game UW-Stout. This was the first home game of the season last year Hamline lost 0-3.


Besides the lack of individualized training and reps at practices, assistant coaches are missed because they are simply a part of the team. 


“Coach [Brian] Sheehan has been awesome…” said Head Football Coach Chip Taylor, “Hamline University and our football program are fortunate to have an assistant with his knowledge of the game, his passion for developing young men, and his ability to recruit young people to college”.


Assistant Coaches are just as excited to come back to train their players as the head coaches and players are to have them back.


“Coaching is a huge part of my identity and within coaching, it is about the personal connections with players…,” Assistant Lacrosse Coach Maureen Sanderson said. “It really is about the little things – walking into Klas or bumping into a player around campus, blowing my whistle or smiling and laughing in celebration of a great practice drill or play. I miss each of the returning players tremendously and look forward to meeting and getting to know the new players once I am allowed to be back on campus and coaching again”.

A Hamline football game with a close up on a Hamline player being chased down the field
Melanie Hopkins Carter

Junior Tristan Thomas charges by Carleton defenders during Hamline’s Homecoming game last year. This year there are no plans for a Homecoming game.


Besides practices and weight training, teams are also meeting virtually to check in, study and keep up their team culture.


We have virtual team meetings on Tuesdays to talk program philosophy and any other housekeeping things we need to cover and we also have virtual focused study on Thursdays,” said Taylor. “We’ve been having one on one meetings with our freshmen weekly as a retention tool and we are heavy into recruiting the 2021 recruiting class”.


Until assistant coaches are able to return, teams will continue to gear up for their seasons. This is the first time for many teams that they are only being coached by one coach. But, they are adjusting. Assistant coaches on the other hand are also staying busy and are eager to return.


“I have been staying busy with my daily routine. I run about 6 miles every morning, something that helps boost my mood and provides me with energy and focus for the day,” said Sanderson. “I [also] have been facilitating a lot of workshops for the Positive Coaching Alliance each week, via Zoom, for organizations all around the country.”

A Hamline Men's hockey game with a Hamline player about to shoot on St. Thomas's goal
Melanie Hopkins Carter

Sophomore Taylor Stefan skates to goal for a shot against St.Thomas last year. St. Thomas played twice last year. Hamline won one game and tied the other.