SIDNEY — Some school districts have faced problems with the transition to virtual teaching methods through internet platforms since school buildings were closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some districts — especially large urban districts like Sidney City Schools — have had had to deal with the most basic issues in using such teaching methods: whether students have computers or internet access.
Handing out Chromebooks and providing internet hotspots helps for most coursework. The transition to online teaching has presented many more challenges for weight training and physical education programs, though; treadmills, weight benches and other workout equipment can’t be distributed like laptops.
The challenge to keep weight training programs going is being tackled by teachers across the nation, including Sidney health and physical education teacher Kyle Coleman. Coleman, who is also Sidney’s strength coach and an assistant football coach, has kept doling out workout assignments and advice since schools closed.
“Obviously with at-home (workouts), we have to be a little more creative,” Coleman said. “Anytime I’m doing anything, whether I’m at the grocery or I’m on a walk, I’m always kind of looking at stuff and how you can use things to implement different workouts. That’s been kind of the biggest thing, trying to find that creativity for kids to be able to use things at home and still get a decent workout in.
“Like I keep telling them, it’s never going to be ideal. It’s never going to be what we prefer to do. We’d obviously rather be in the weight room, but just like everything else, we’ve got to make the best of the situation.”
The transition to at-home conditioning was a little easier for Sidney students compared to some other districts because Coleman already used an online software called TeamBuildr. The online platform, which is also used by some colleges and professional sports organizations, is used by schools and teams to manage training programs.
“You can deliver workouts wherever kids are at (with the application),” Coleman said. “It’s all online. When we’re in school in our own weight room, kids are using iPads and using (the app). It’s a system that they’re accustomed to, so that’s a big thing for us as we’ve transitioned to at-home items, being able to use the same delivery system.”
Workout methods have changed, though. Coleman said based on the feedback he’s received from students, most don’t have any workout equipment save for a few having dumbbells.
Coleman, who has been Sidney’s defensive coordinator since 2015, said he’s provided instruction for students who do have limited equipment on how to get the most use out of it. For everyone else, he’s provided guidance on how to train without it.
“The biggest thing we’ve been trying to preach to our kids is sprint and jump with very high intent,” Coleman said. “There’s a lot of studies that say that you lose the power muscles a lot quicker than you’re going to lose the stamina. The more we can get out and sprint with 100% intent and jump, the better. And not just preach to the kids; that’s something I’m preaching to myself. I’m not used to doing that, either.”
Aside from organizing workouts through TeamBuildr, Coleman has posted additional instruction on his Twitter and Instagram profiles. He’s also organized participation contests for athletes and is awarding a t-shirt and ice cream cone from K&J’s Ice Cream weekly.
“Those videos kind of supplement things and hopefully take care of some questions (from students),” Coleman, who played and coached football at Bluffton University, said. “It’s been a process for me as well, trying to be creative in how to do different movements.”
“I try to show them some different options. I think the easiest thing to do is to think, ‘I can’t do this because I don’t have access to that ball or dumbbell or whatever.’ You just have to find a way.”
Coleman’s training program is encouraged by most of Sidney’s teams and athletes from most of the school’s sports participate. He said current at-home training programs should keep athletes physically fit enough to be ready for when normal practices and conditioning restart — but said it doesn’t compare to normal training.
“When we get back into it, I think coaches are going to have to be intelligent,” Coleman said. “Every coach is going to want to jump in at 100 miles an hour. That’s who we are. We’ve been sitting around during this time and thinking about all these different ideas we want to implement.
“The biggest thing is, you can’t overcook the steak. …We’re going to have to slow cook it and be patient with the process as players get acclimated.”
Aside from staying fit, Coleman thinks continuing training in the era of stay-at-home orders is beneficial in other ways.
“It’s more than just athletics at this point,” Coleman said. “Hopefully we can give them the opportunity to get up and move around. Kids are getting in a sedentary lifestyle a little bit during this time, which is probably normal for the vast majority of people. The more we can help them get up and moving around the more I think it helps them to kind of get them motivated for their day.”
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.