“It’s been strange, and we’re living in a virtual environment,” says Spartans athletic director Bill Beekman. “We’re trying to be responsible and staying holed up. We’re mostly communicating through technology.
“I’ve been having meetings through Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and conference calls in my office in my basement. I’m mostly working the phones and trying to stay in touch with everyone.”
Beekman has a conference call every weekday morning with his fellow Big Ten athletic directors and new league commissioner Kevin Warren and his team. And he’s staying in touch with Spartan coaches and student-athletes.
Beekman feels badly for the student-athletes who have worked so hard and who didn’t get to finish their winter seasons and those who won’t get to compete in spring sports.
“Yet in some ways it feels small in comparison to the life and death issues that so many people around the country are facing with loved ones in nursing homes they can’t visit and loved ones on ventilators in hospitals. While we worry about athletics, we also have to keep in mind the context. Athletics is like the icing on the cake, and we have to worry about the cake right now.”
While student-athletes are off campus, the department is still able to provide services for them like remote academic support and training services, strength coaches sharing ideas for home workouts, and Zoom meetings with coaches and position coaches.
“We have students literally spread out across the world. Spartan athletes come to us from places like Korea, Japan, Spain, and South America. And there are students who are still living in East Lansing. Whether they’re here in East Lansing continuing to live in our on-campus housing or whether they’re on the other side of the world, we’re trying to electronically make sure they’re all well taken care of.”
One silver lining in the horrible cloud of dealing with the pandemic is the chance for coaches and staff to reconnect with their families. Athletics, like many other professions, can be a never-ending cycle where when one season ends, the next immediately begins. For now, that has slowed down, which provides an opportunity for a battery recharge.
“As Coach Mel Tucker says when we return, we’ll be firing on all cylinders and relentlessly pressing ahead.
“And I say to our wonderful world of supporters that Spartan Athletics will be back. We’ll be back stronger than ever. We’re excited about the fall and the upcoming year. Immediately, though, I encourage people to follow the advice from medical experts and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Stay inside. Stay home. Don’t be tempted, and let’s all get through this together and come out on the other side. We can celebrate then. We need to take care of business now and make sure everyone stays healthy.”