The world for Delta State University head football coach Todd Cooley and the rest of the Statesmen has changed drastically.
The concerns centered on COVID-19 have not only canceled any type of organized practice or activities but has put the college sports world in a land of uncertainty over when things will get up and running again. The schools are closed with students taking online classes.
Cooley said this ordeal hasn’t been easy.
“It’s been trying,” Cooley said. “It’s been difficult. I’m really proud of being associated with Delta State. Our administration has handled it really well from the outset. You just like being around your players and being around your coaches, and we haven’t been able to do that.”
With Delta State University closed and his players having to be off-campus, Cooley and his staff have had to make adjustments as far as how to contact players and coaches.
“Everything has gone to virtual meetings,” Cooley said. “I’ve become a lot better at zoom and technology. I guess if I can take a positive out of this, it’s that I’ve learned to do more things from that standpoint because I’ve had too.”
The concerns over what might happen with the future weigh on the team’s mind.
“It’s just tough, man,” Cooley said. “It’s just trying. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. People are commenting every day. I get tired of that because well, they said this and so and so said this and none of that matters. NCAA will eventually make a decision. When they do, we’ll be ready to play.”
Cooley said his main concern right now is getting the players to focus on the things they have to do during this pandemic.
“What I tell my team is if we will just stay on top of our stuff academically and stay in (good) physical condition and be prepared when we come back, then we’re going to have a pretty good leg up on everybody,” Cooley said.
Cooley said the world has changed since the first Friday in March when he last saw his team in person.
“We talked to them on March 6, the day we were getting ready to go to spring break, and people were just starting to hear about it over here,” Cooley said. “I told them, I said guys you’ve got to be smart, wash your hands. If you guys get it, some of you guys might not even know you have it. We talked to them about being good stewards and realizing that your grandmother and your grandfather could be affected by this, so you guys got to be smart and make sure you’re keeping your hands clean.
“On March 6, we weren’t social distancing. Nothing was going on March 6, and that’s the last time I’ve seen my team face to face. At that time, we were coming back from spring break, and it was going to be good. The NCAA basketball tournament was starting that week, and the NCAA regionals were getting ready to start. A lot has changed in a month and a half.”
One of the main things that Cooley has preached to his team over the years is controlling what they can control. During press conferences, he has said to the media that his team needs to control what they can control.
Cooley said that lesson applies perfectly to this pandemic.
“They cannot control the fact that there is a pandemic globally that is going on that is canceling sports and canceling events and killing people,” Cooley said. “We can’t control that. All we can control is how we respond to it and how we respond to it is we take care of others, we keep our distance, we keep our hands clean and we do our part. We also stay on top of our academics, workout and prepare, because we know, at some point, we’re going to come back together.”
Cooley said this experience has him appreciating life now more than ever.
“When we come back, whenever that is, I’m not going to take one day for granted,” Cooley said. “I’m not going to take one minute getting to coach this game for granted. The thing about it is no matter how negative a situation is, you’ve got to try to do your best to turn it into a positive and take the positives out of it. We’re going to get through this. The world is going to get through this; our country is going to get through this. When it does, we have to smarten up as people to take the positives out of it.
“I’m trying to spend some time researching some things, football-wise, I wanted to research. It’s been good. I’m trying to make it into a positive.”