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Athletes work, prepare for return to school, head coach says

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A father of three school-aged children, a husband to Erin—who also works for the school district—and a father figure to many more kids that he feels responsible for and worries about, Elgin High School Head Coach Jens Anderson took the time to speak about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected his family, his job and his student “kids.” Do you still come to

Do you still come to your office or are you staying at home to work?

The great majority of the time, I am able to stay at home and be in contact with everyone I need to be in order to stay on top of things. I try to limit my office visits, because every time I do come, the cleaning crew has to clean and sanitize the area where I visited or worked.

How are you staying in touch with your coaches?

We use Google Classroom to communicate during our staff meetings with coaches. It is an easy system to use and we are all familiar with it. I speak with all coaches on a regular basis.

How are you and your coaches able to reach the students?

The kids in athletics and in school in general are able to access online accounts, Google Classroom and other web platforms. The athletes’ coaches are being very proactive and sending them their workout programs online so they have a process to follow to help stay in physical and mental shape. We have had a real good response with the online workouts. These kids nowadays are an online generation, so hopefully we can all learn even better ways to communicate back and forth from this.

What are the latest guidelines and dates you have been made aware of concerning school and scholastic activities?

This, of course, could change at any time, but the latest information I have is that school is closed until at least April 19. The UIL has mandated all sports contests are closed until at least May 4. Our kids start remote learning on Monday, March 30.

Would it be safe to say the spring sports, such as powerlifting, baseball, softball, tennis, golf and track are over for the year?

No, not at all. We are holding out hope that some, if not all, of these sports may still have a chance to compete in a modified season or tournament of some sort. Myself, the coaches and the athletes are all continuing to work as if we are coming back to compete. We all have a very positive attitude.

What have you been most pleased with during this current situation?

A definite reminder that we are in the people business, not just sports business. Our superintendent has done a phenomenal job in keeping her staff informed. I feel we are a team and the students are our number one priority. Our food and nutritional staff have done a fantastic job ensuring any kid that needs a meal has one available. We have tried to make sure their basic human needs are being addressed through constant communication with our kids.

What message do you have for the students at Elgin High School?

They should know that they are missed. The coaches and teachers all miss the relationships they formed with the kids, like a brotherhood or sisterhood, like family. I have spoken with many of the students, and they themselves really want to come back to school. They miss it as well. It is especially hard for the seniors of this class. Your heart has to go out for them the most. So much is built up for your senior year. The hardest part for them is simply not knowing. They are wondering if their sports careers are over, will they have a graduation and get to walk for their diploma, how will they end their final year in high school. But I hope they keep the faith, stay positive and hopefully good things will come.

What do we need to learn from this virus situation?

We need to learn to appreciate everyday life, especially your friends and classmates and teammates. Uncertainty is a tough thing. How are we navigating being uncomfortable? Are we staying strong? Chances are, none of us have ever dealt with something like we are going through. This is history. But we have a chance to be smart and strong to get through this together. We want the kids to stay safe and we need to stay safe.