Perham Activities living into new reality
Currently, the Minnesota State High School League has spring sports activities suspended and not canceled. A decision has not been made on the upcoming season yet. Perham Activities Director Erin Anderson said it’s an opportunity to live into a new reality every day.
With the suspension of events, it has altered the pace of things for the Perham Activities Office during this time.
Normally a hectic time for Perham Activities Director Erin Anderson and his department has slowed dramatically, they are still busy preparing for a potential spring sports season and working ahead towards the 2020-21 season.
Anderson recalled the whirlwind events that were taking place at the end of the winter sports season. The Perham boys basketball team was about to play for the Section 8AA Championship, but events were stopped due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Anderson said they went from figuring out the 90 fans that would be allowed into the game, to having to tell the team their season was over. He said the abrupt ending to the winter sports season and the start of the spring sports season didn’t seem quite right.
“You wondered what was going to happen and as we watched these different stages unfold, it seemed that almost every day there was a new announcement. It immediately began to change the pace around here. I think one of the biggest changes for us dealing with the suspension of spring activities is we are no longer in that hectic event phase,” Anderson said. “We have been able to focus in and hone in on some areas that we are not always allowed to that we would like to, because the hectic phase doesn’t allow us to. We are lucky that we live out almost a year ahead of time, so we are working on a lot of scheduling that we can get caught up on and get ahead on. We are sending out a lot of contracts to other schools and work on hopefully our full schedules for next year.”
Anderson said he is trying to remain positive and not overwhelm the coaching staff during this time. Many of them are educators and have been busy working with distance learning during the stay-at-home order. However, for the student-athletes, it’s a time where players need their coaches.
“I’m trying to be positive. Ironically, this is my feeling, our students need their coaches as much as anytime in the history that they have ever been involved with them. This is a time to coach, but in a different way. A lot of them are staying connected, encouraging their students, if they are in athletics, with some potential workouts and things that they can be doing if they so choose. Also, just to make that connection and to reach out, to check-in and let the students know you are thinking about them,” Anderson said. “It’s important for our coaches to just maintain that role they have as a coach and a mentor in what can be an unknown and scary time for all of us, let alone our students. We are trying to encourage them. Some of our coaches have been discouraged because they have been looking forward to an opportunity for a great spring for the Yellowjackets. We are living through unprecedented times.”
Usually at this time coaches are game-planning and preparing for their upcoming events, however, it’s forced them to be creative during this time of the unknown.
“Most of our coaches are planners and they are very systemic,” Anderson said. “They have been getting ready for this spring season much longer than these last few weeks. To have this abruptly halt what their plans were and what their normalcy was going to be. I think they have had to be creative. I have seen our coaches being positive and I have seen them be very creative with what they are doing, what they are thinking and how they are reaching out.”
Anderson said he misses the face-to-face interaction with the students and his coaches. He said that time was a bright light for him when he became the activities director at Perham and is a bright light for him every day. However, he said the change of pace has allowed the department to dive into some projects they normally wouldn’t be able to get to because of the hectic time of event planning and coordination.
“I have seen the coaches more than I have seen the students, but we are also monitoring ourselves a bit more now, too,” Anderson said. “There is not a lot of direct face-to-face interaction. In the positive way, it’s certainly a change of pace, but it can bum you out a bit if you don’t have that interaction. During that time, I’ve been really trying to dive into being creative with what we can do in this office. I have been working with Administrative Assistant Missy Lindquist, who has done a fabulous job. It has allowed us to explore some things in the activities world that we have wanted to look at but the hectic pace and the reality rolling of the season as it normally does, doesn’t allow us to. We have been looking at some things that we can proactively tackle with this slower pace. I have been diving into the calendar the past couple of weeks, almost completely thinking about next year. As you keep busy, it kind of keeps you from thinking of what you are missing. I very much miss the interaction of the students and watching our coaches and students perform in the activities that they are a part of for the Yellowjackets.”
Anderson said this is a time to remain positive and encourage each other. He said it’s also a time to take a step back and realize how important teamwork is.
“Not just teamwork from being on an athletic team or a speech team or even a team here as coaches and educators or as in being a team in Perham,“ Anderson said. “I think it’s a time to step back and take a broad look at that. Teamwork is a huge part of what we are trying to teach our students in the activities department. That’s an integral part of one of the life lessons our coaches try to teach. We are being called to a civic duty that’s as hard as any opponent that we have been up against. It’s hard to see it that way when you are healthy and it hasn’t hit our area as hard as it has other areas in the country, but that’s what I have been trying to positively focus on. We can do this together, but it’s together we have to do this.”