By Kevin Stone/@kstone06
Football is back at The Heights.
Well, sort of.
On Monday Eagles’ players returned to campus. On Wednesday head coach Jeff Hafley met with the media for the first time in a while and answered questions ranging from NCAA guidelines to whether or not he’ll be taking a short vacation before things truly ramp up.
Here’s a look at some of the key points from Wednesday’s interaction:
ON THE RETURN TO CAMPUS
Hafley explained that the team is already in a quarantine period after arriving to campus. The Eagles filled the Fish Field House Monday for their first team meeting since being back. More than anything, Hafley was just happy to see his players again, even in masks.
“I think it’s a huge step,” Hafley said of the return to campus as the first baby step in what will be a long process. “Very grateful for the support here at the school to get our guys back and not rush into it. We want to ensure the safety of our players and the health of our players is the most important thing.
“We had a team meeting with families involved several times where we were able to go over the guidelines. We had the doctors available, there’s a manual available for them, so the parents were great. All those that were expected to be back came back.”
“The one thing I told the team was that we’re being proactive instead of reactive. I think it will be a little harder for our guys early, but hopefully after it’ll pay off. It’s great to be back around them, it’s great to be back around the staff and we’re excited.”
ON THE PLAYERS QUARANTINING
Hafley said that once the players returned Monday the quarantining started that night and would last about eight days, not the 14 that is usually heard when discussing any quarantine scenario.
“You’ve probably read that our guys are in a quarantine, and I’m not sure everybody in the country is doing that,” Hafley said. “What I mean by that is our guys are being asked to take precautions and be on their own for a period of time in hopes in the long run that will help us and our plan moving forward. Again, the number one deal for us is making sure our players are safe and healthy before we do any football.
“Right now what we’re looking at is about an eight-day period where they start to quarantine, and then we’re going to do some testing after that period there.”
ON OTHER PROGRAMS AROUND THE COUNTRY SEEING SURGES IN COVID-19 CASES
Hafley was asked how concerned he was about the spikes around the country and had some interesting thoughts on it.
“I think it’s going to happen,” he said. “I think you’re going to see it across all college campuses. We’re going to have ups and downs and probably have some weeks where some kids are going to get it. We’re going to have to deal with it and learn from it as best we can.
“I wouldn’t say that I’m shocked. You get a bunch of kids coming in from all different areas, really not knowing where they’ve been or who they’ve been around. They can be asymptomatic and still have it, so nothing would really shock me at this point, but I do believe that we’re doing everything we can to minimize all of those risks.”
ON HOW REALISTIC A NORMAL FOOTBALL SEASON IS
Hafley was more than confident in the fact that there will be a season this year, but of course that could always change much like anything in the world during this mind-boggling 2020.
“Well, if things are good and we’re able to have contact then I think we’ll see football as we know it,” Hafley said. “I think we’re hopeful the games will be played and we’ll be back at this thing, but if everything goes according to plan I hope me and (another reporter) are talking about kick off and what it’s going to look like and everything will be moving forward.
“I think all the medical people have been working really hard together and I think this is a start. Will there be ups and downs? Sure, but you know there’s no book guys. This is kind of like what I explained to the team. This has never happened in the history of college football. So, every day I wake up and something new will happen, and there will be something that maybe we can do a little bit better. Maybe we can look to the teams that have already been through this a little bit longer and somewhat learn from what they’ve been doing.
“We all have to be encouraged right now because we’re here. If we weren’t and no one was back right now I’d be a little worried.”
ON PLAYERS STEPPING UP AS LEADERS
Hafley talked about many different players stepping up to become team leaders during this strange time, acknowledging that the bond has actually become stronger.
“I think there’s been a lot (of guys stepping up) in a lot of different ways,” Hafley said. “We have a leadership council that’s been extremely helpful. There’s a member of each position group on that council and they’ve kind of been my eyes and ears when I can’t get in front of the whole team. They’ve been very instrumental in filling me in on what the guys need and want, what the climate is like, how are the guys doing, do they need anything? Are they healthy? Are they happy? That’s really been the biggest thing for me. I don’t want to isolate anyone specifically because there’s been so many different examples in little ways.
“I was concerned when we got back and weren’t allowed to be around them that the connection would go away a little bit. The most important thing to me is connecting with the players and staff, and I do believe over this time we’ve actually become even closer.”
ON BC FOOTBALL BECOME BIGGER INFLUENCES IN THE COMMUNITY
Hafley wrapped up the day talking about various ways that Eagles players have voiced their desire to become bigger factors in the community, whether it be for social justice or for COVID-19 help.
“I’m very fortunate that we have a very diverse staff,” added Hafley. “Truthfully, I think a lot of this is about education. A lot of the staff members have really helped other staff members – including myself – grow. We’ve had conversations with our football team, with our leadership council, and like I said our number one goal right now is to make sure our players are healthy, but the other number one goal we have during this time is to make sure we’re supportive of our players.
“We’ve put together some initiatives. The players have asked to donate money to a group, and we’re in the process of collecting that money and trying to make some positive action, some positive change. We’ve been in touch with the Boston Police, some members of the police that the players wanted to be around, and when things get better we’re going to look into that.
“We’re looking into adopting a high school or community center of underprivileged kids so we can show up and help and take action and hopefully change lives. That’s the thing we keep stressing to one another, yeah, the tweets are good, the posts are good, but we want to take action and the players have been behind that. The staff is behind that and we want to support that.”