Coaching during COVID-19: How to lead a team with no guarantee of a season

posted in: COVID-19, Fall, Sports | 0

On November 17th, 2019, Ian Falconer’s life changed forever. After ten years as an assistant coach, Falconer was named the head coach of the Pacific Boxers football team. Nine months later, Falconer was a head coach without a season. 

The Northwest Conference announced they have cancelled all athletics until the beginning of next year. “There was disappointment,” said Falconer when referring to the initial atmosphere of the program after the cancelled fall season. The team finished fifth in the conference in 2019 and were poised for a great season this fall. As star player Ty Hargis said, “The bottom line is we still haven’t accomplished the things we have set out to do at Pacific, which is winning a Conference Championship and competing in the NCAA playoffs”.

Falconer refuses to make excuses for himself or the team during the pandemic. “This is a great chance for us to grow because of these challenges,” said the coach, adding “if there is anything I want our program to be about, its growth.” That mindset has been set within the players as well, as Hargis says, “we’ve really focused on the things we can control as a program, which is the way we work on a daily basis to get better.”

One of Falconer’s difficult tasks is creating his own program during a time when he has no contact with his players whether it be practice or seeing them on campus. He believes one of his biggest goals is to set an example for his players and “continue to attack challenges with excitement.” Falconer says, “This is an opportunity for me to be the leader I would want to have in a time like this.” Hargis heaps praise on the way Falconer has handled the virus with the team in first year. He says, “through online meetings, texts, phone calls and videos, Coach Falconer has done a great job to continue to move us in the right direction which has been very difficult being so remote from one another. ”

It is evident what Falconer looks to revolve his program around, love for your teammates and commitment to creating something greater than yourself. “I want our guys to connect with each other and the community that supports them.” The head coach wants to maintain honesty and respect between him and his players saying, “I have to be honest with the players whether it is about this season or something they can do better and encourage them to do the right thing.”

In a time when some coaches might be overwhelmed with the pandemic which continues to affect our world, head coach Ian Falconer has remained calm  and has spread the same feeling around the entire football program. Falconer’s message is simple, “Love your football team, love this community, and that love is not just a feeling, it is a commitment and a willingness to act on behalf of others.” — Joey Balleweg


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