Amid outbreak, coaches get creative to 'meet' with teams

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HOOSICK, N.Y. — Hoosick Falls girls lacrosse coach Liz Leva stands in front of the town skating rink with a lacrosse stick, a goal and a stand-up trampoline called the Rebounder.

With sports at a standstill due to the coronavirus outbreak, this Instagram video is the first of what could be a handful of virtual training sessions for her Panthers.

The goal is to have her team ready to go, if and when the spring season begins.

"I plan on uploading some offensive, defensive and conditioning content," said Leva via email on Tuesday. "In the meantime, I set daily challenges for my team. So when I go on a run, I record my time and have them do the same, or we set rep quotas on certain days, how many burpees in a minute, etc."

In her first Instagram video, Leva, who played for four years at Morrisville State before coming back to Hoosick to coach, shows the viewer a handful of different throws and catches that a person can do without a partner or teammate.

"Thank you for watching Hoosick Falls' first virtual training program. I'm super excited to crush this social distancing and keep our lacrosse stick skills sharp," says Leva at the start of the video. "If the season starts, we're ready to move forward and ready to play as a program."

She's not the only local coach turning to technology to get ready for the season.

Burr and Burton girls lacrosse coach Jamie Blake is also using the virtual realm to keep in touch with her athletes as they prepare for a season that may start.

She's leading a virtual competition with not only BBA, but a handful of other lacrosse teams in Vermont.

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"We use it usually as an offseason thing for our multi-sport athletes," said Blake.

In a Google doc, six categories are listed that make up a workout and athletes that participate can do up to two of them in a day. That includes 30 minutes of cardio training and 30 minutes of strength training, 10 minutes of recovery, 10 minutes of mental relaxation, 15 minutes of play and 15 minutes of game film.

There are a bunch of different activities for each category as well — for the cardio, they can run or swim or bike. For the play category, it's all about working on stick handling or wall ball.

"It's optional and it's self-reporting," Blake said. "We have seven teams with players that are a part and it's teams in both divisions and from both north and south."

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Another workout category is mental relaxation, which includes visualization, breathing and mindfulness.

"My assistant, Ken Stefanak, has really focused on imagery, it's a major focus for us this year," Blake said.

There will be prizes for both the winning team and the top three individuals with the highest total workouts.

"We want people to compete in anything, even if it's virtual," Blake said. "It's not just for us, it's to build the whole community of lacrosse in Vermont."

Blake said it's a pretty good way to keep up with her players to get ready for the season — the official start of the spring sports season in Vermont was supposed to be Monday — but that she's still working on other ways to stay connected.

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"We're starting to meet a couple times a week on Google Hangouts, which is the same thing that Burr and Burton is using for its remote learning," Blake said. "I'm also trying to figure out how to use it to watch game film as a group, but we're still working on the tech. Otherwise, I'm trying to have some individual meetings to check in with the kids."

Mount Anthony girls lacrosse coach Emily Cross said her team has also participated in Blake's challenge.

"It's a fun way to have the girls be competitive, even though we aren't playing," Cross said.

Cross said that she's been sending workout videos through the team's group chat.

"I usually message them four times a day, they probably want to mute me," said Cross with a laugh.

But the team has been positive throughout this unprecedented situation.

"I encouraged them to make a video about why they love lacrosse and almost everyone was a part of it," Cross said. "Kylee Hall put it together and I wanted to spread some positive vibes. The kids are staying upbeat, even if it's hard to do. I saw the final product and I think I watched it five times."

Blake's message to not only her BBA team, but all the teams, is Stay Hyped.

"This will be over at some point, and at the end of this, where do you want to be?" Blake said. "We teach the kids to see beyond the everyday, seeing the big picture and the long-term."


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