Coaches Corner: How do you keep players motivated for an uncertain season?

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Northwest Whitfield High School head softball coach Todd Middleton high-fives Torrey Cummings as she circles the bases in a 2019 game.

Coaches Corner is a series of stories about a variety of issues that coaches must deal with on and off the playing surface. Today, how do local coaches try to keep their players motivated when the status of the fall sports season is still in question?

Even just about a month out from the scheduled start of fall sports, no one knows for sure yet whether that start will happen.

Amid the outbreak of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), restrictions are slowly starting to relax for offseason workouts, but what if those workouts, the work that went into holding them as safely as possible, ends up being all for nothing if the season is canceled?

It's a possibility that area football, softball, volleyball and cross country coaches and teams have to deal with. It's a possibility they deal with by working hard and hoping for the best.

"Well, we just have to go about it like we're playing until we hear something different," Northwest Whitfield High School head softball and baseball coach Todd Middleton said. "I don't think you can do it any other way. You can't halfway do it. We're going to move forward with everything we're allowed to do, and treat it like it's a normal year."

Dalton High School head volleyball coach Edis Krnjic said he's optimistic the volleyball season will go on as planned.

"I've been back and forth as far as what I've thought, but I do have some optimism that we're going to do it," Krnjic said.

Krnjic, who also assists with the soccer programs at Dalton, saw firsthand the effects of the outbreak when the spring sports season was canceled without a finish in March.

"That kind of put a little damper on my optimism," Krnjic said. "I want the season, but I want everything to be safe."

Krnjic said he's had conversations with his team about the possibility of a wiped-out season. His outlook, just like Middleton's, is to approach the season as if it were normal.

"You just have to talk to them," Krnjic said. "They all believe the season is going to happen. They all have that confidence."

"It's a difficult thing, because we have a lot of seniors," Krnjic said. "They've worked hard for they're whole lives for this. I want them to be able to finish."

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