Though his whole football team is back together for the first time since March, life on campus is by no means business as usual for Boston College head football coach Jeff Hafley.
Excitement and anticipation comes with the territory of a new season of college football, according to Hafley, but this year, that excitement is accompanied by precaution and uncertainty. Though the NCAA ruled that college teams could resume voluntary workouts starting June 1, it is up to individual institutions to create protocols which keep athletes safe.
Since the football team’s return to campus on Monday, Hafley, his staff, and the players have begun team meetings—though instead of sitting shoulder to shoulder in the Yawkey Center or huddled together after a workout, players and coaches sat in chairs six feet apart on the turf of the Fish Field House.
Since the team’s first in-person meeting looked different than usual, Hafley said it also brought a different sense of excitement.
“Truthfully, when this all started, I don’t know if any of us thought we would be back in this situation,” Hafley said in a video press conference on Wednesday. “So there are so many emotions at times. … Suddenly we’re back, and it was just great to be around the players and the staff again.”
Now, back on campus, the team is at somewhat of a crossroads. Despite all the energy and excitement of being back at school, the team can’t get cracking on practice right away. In Wednesday’s press conference, Hafley repeatedly noted that the safety of his players is his first priority, which means the players have to quarantine for 14 days before any real practice can begin.
“Our guys are being asked to take precautions and be on their own for a period of time in the hopes that, in the long run, that will help us and our plan move forward,” Hafley said in Wednesday’s press conference.
The reality is, however, that no matter how many precautions BC football takes, Hafley still has to be able to put together a group of 11 guys on either side of the ball. According to Hafley, that means separating the position groups so that one positive test for COVD-19 doesn’t wipe out an entire facet of the game.
Take, for example, BC’s offensive line. The likes of Ben Petrula, Alec Lindstrom, Tyler Vrabel, and Zion Johnson—recently named the fourth-best offensive trench unit in the country by Rich Cirminiello, the Director of College Awards for the Maxwell Football Club—will be separated in order to prevent the spread of the virus within their group, according to Hafley.
Hafley said the details of position group separation have not yet been ironed out.
Hafley also noted that prior to the Eagles’ return to campus, he and the rest of his coaching staff held virtual meetings with the players’ families in order to address guidelines and safety precautions. He said that doctors were present for those meetings to make everyone aware of the medical precautions and protocols in place.
The players are currently in the midst of a 14-day quarantine period, and on or around day eight, they will be tested for coronavirus. Until then, players must wear face coverings in common spaces, and players are given a temperature check before they are admitted to buildings and common areas.
“We are not going to use the quarantine as an excuse,” Hafley said. “Let’s not waste this opportunity to get better.”
Featured Image Courtesy of BC Athletics