Bohl shares thoughts on life amid COVID-19, Part 1 – Wyoming Tribune

Posted: April 18, 2020 at 5:44 pm


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LARAMIE The shuffleboard contests at the Bohl household these days are spirited, and the subsequent cooking sessions tend to include their fair share of wine.

Craig Bohl, the University of Wyomings seventh-year football coach, and his wife, Leia, have, like the rest of us, spent the majority of the past month at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic which has brought the world to a screeching halt. People all over the world are under stay-at-home orders, with the severity of those conditions varying from country to country, state to state and county to county.

Within the Equality State, non-essential businesses have left downtown Laramie looking more ghost town than college town. The university at the center of the town, normally bustling with smiling faces, has transitioned to online classes for the remainder of the semester.

Graduation? Thats going to be done remotely, too.

While not necessarily at the forefront of the countrys collective consciousness, sports worldwide have been stopped dead in their tracks. Pro sports are on hiatus indefinitely, while college sports, including spring football practices, have been canc-eled through the end of the semester.

Though its only been about a month, the 61-year-old Bohl has never been away from a football team for this long.

When he was the head coach at North Dakota State in 2009, a massive flood ended classes for several weeks, the only sort of comparable thing the veteran coach has ever been through.

Even then, coaches and players were still around. Whether it was filling sandbags or helping move things, there was still camaraderie among the team. They were still together, helping the community at large. Now? The only contact Bohl has with his players and coaches is through videoconferencing, which he admittedly is still getting used to.

This is not how were made, Bohl said with a laugh. And its not how our country is made.

So what has Bohl done to fill the time? Unlike the rest of America, Tiger King and Love is Blind havent been on his itinerary. Hes stayed away from television, even his beloved sports programming.

It all makes him a bit too sad.

Hes taking more and more walks as the weeks have passed, hes played shuffleboard with Leia and has started subscribing to home food delivery services. In the process, Chef Bohl has become a culinary genius. On most nights, he and Leia open a bottle of cabernet, put on some music and put together dinner. Among his favorites, he said, is a cheesy roasted red pepper lasagna skillet with meatballs. The newfound passion in the kitchen isnt good for his waistline, he admits, but its good for his soul.

Bohl has had to recalibrate his life without football, and its been difficult. Sure, hes popping into video chats with players and coaches on a daily basis. But that in-person, stare-you-straight-in-the-eyes contact he and his peers in the coaching world long for? Thats gone for the foreseeable future, and thats a tough pill to swallow.

As much as I appreciate technology theres nothing like having dinner at a training table, Bohl said.

The fate of sports as we know it hangs in the balance, both in the immediate and long-term. Whether there is even a college football season in 2020 is still up in the air, as everyone from medical professionals to athletics directors scramble to weigh the very real possibility of a season without fans or a cancellation altogether.

In an interview with WyoSports, Bohl discussed how hes managing to stay positive amid a constant barrage of bad news and his role as a calming influence to young men.

Bohl is aware of the medical dangers at hand, and, unlike some college football coaches who have been vocal about restarting things sooner rather than later like Oklahoma States Mike Gundy, he isnt clamoring for things to start tomorrow. The nation is in need of healing, Bohl believes, and nothing does that quite like college football. We all need a boost. But he also realizes there is a lot more on the line than the competitive desires of he and his contemporaries.

I dont operate in a vacuum, Bohl said. There are a lot of stakeholders other than a coach with a whistle around his neck.

There are moments during video chats where Bohl spots players looking down at their phones. They cant really help it, having been raised in a culture that doesnt know what to do without smart phones. But hed be lying if he said it wasnt a little bit frustrating.

You want to look them in the eye, Bohl said. (But) youre kind of making what you have of it.

As opposed to game planning for upcoming matchups with Colorado State or Air Force, there is no playbook on how to proceed with football in a world with coronavirus. Everyone is flying by the seat of their pants.

Right now, Bohl and his set of assistants should have completed spring practice, which would have culminated in a spring football game to give fans a taste of whats to come in the fall. And with the way the 2019 season ended for the Cowboys, a 38-17 demolition of Georgia State in the Arizona Bowl to reach an eighth win, Bohl firmly believes the 2020 edition of the team has a chance to be special.

Instead of monitoring the expected developments of quarterback Levi Williams or running back Xazavian Valladay, the closest Bohl can get to either signal-caller is staring into a monitor and having faith in his WiFi connection. The new normal in college football preparation is video chats, where Bohl balances being a head coach popping into positional meetings with being a voice of calm and reason to a group of young men just as concerned about the current state of affairs as everyone else.

In the way a father might reassure his son theres no monster under the bed, Bohl shares positivity with his players, keeping them informed on things hes gathered on various American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) conference calls. Hes of course measured in what he tells them, but he spreads optimism, a trait most college football coaches share.

What Ive been doing is popping in (and saying), This is what I see is going to happen, some information that Ive gotten, Bohl said. They all want to play but they know its not a guarantee. But theres really a sense of calming, (that) were going to be ok.

Bohl has taken the advice of his MW peers who might be a little more tech savvy than he is. Despite rivalries among them, the coaches are supportive of one another and lend helping hands whenever possible, offering solutions to problems Bohl and many of his peers never imagined would come up.

Football coaches generally run at one speed, and it isnt slow. But when downtime does come, its a relief, a chance to recharge batteries that have been running for months and sometimes years at a time. But right now, despite his best efforts to stay engaged and be the head coach of a Division I football team, all of this feels like a lull. When you cant pat a player on the back or blow your whistle, it just isnt the same.

Bohl has never been around the house this much, and he can only hold off cleaning his garage for so long.

As a coach, you clamor for some down time, you clamor for some alone time. But then there also comes a void, youve been running Mach 1, youve been doing this all your life, Bohl explained. My wife is ready for me to be ready to go back to work.

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Bohl shares thoughts on life amid COVID-19, Part 1 - Wyoming Tribune

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April 18th, 2020 at 5:44 pm

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