Georgia College forward Kohl Roberts is normally not much of a gambler.
During the coronavirus pandemic, though, he has used a deck of cards to help with his workouts.
“One of the things I am doing a lot now is getting a deck of cards and each suit represents something, so burpees, air squats, jump squats, pushups,” Roberts said. “I do that three or four times a week.”
After a run at the Peach Belt Conference tournament, the social-distancing and shelter-in-place orders changed the lives of Roberts and the Georgia College Bobcats.
The NCAA is not allowing athletic programs to mandate practice programs for its athletes, so Roberts had to get creative to replace the eight hours a week he would have spent in team-guided training.
The NCAA suspended and subsequently canceled spring Division-I sports including one of the biggest college basketball draws in the March Madness tournament.
Georgia College head men’s coach Mark Gainous caught wind of D-I cancellations through emails from Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA, and knew D-II rulings would follow.
The Peach Belt Tournament concluded on Sunday, March 8, but it was one of the few tournaments that was completed. The SEC men’s basketball tournament in Nashville was canceled before the second round began.
Though Georgia College’s season ended days before the lockdown, the team faced obstacles to their academic progress.
“I know the online stuff is tough for all you guys as far as school goes for a lot of students,” Gainous said.
Through Zoom, FaceTime and texting, Gainous tries to keep up with his players as much as he can. The players join the coaching staff on a Zoom call every Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. for about 40 minutes.
Gainous is constructively using this opportunity and brought University alumni, including one of the greatest players in school history, on to a team Zoom session.
Among the greatest losses during the coronavirus pandemic for Georgia College is the team’s workout and practice time. During the season, the Bobcats devoted 20 hours a week to basketball-related activities before transitioning to eight hours in the offseason.
The season ended March 7 after a loss to Lander University in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament, but that was only the beginning of the team and country’s battle during the coronavirus pandemic.
The first week of March brought focus to the Peach Belt Tournament where the Bobcats advanced to the semifinal found. The focus was purely on basketball after the team’s first PBC tournament victory since 2009.
“I think everything was good,” the senior forward Roberts said. “We got to the big Peach Belt Tournament which we needed two wins to go to the NCAA tournament. We won the first game but lost the second game.”
March 8 rolled around and the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States topped 500. Georgia College department heads began preparing themselves for a suspension of instruction during their spring break which began on March 16.
“One of my [biology professors] is the head of the department and he was telling us that we were probably going to shut down school just for an extra week,” Roberts said. “Just to see how everything goes.”
Aside from missing out on practice time, the Bobcats have lost quality time spent with each other. Gainous compared his team to a family and feels he is missing out both as a coach, and as a family member. What he misses even more than basketball is the camaraderie.
“I’m just really looking forward to getting the guys all back on Georgia College’s campus,” Gainous said. “Get together, go out to eat for a team meal, have them over to my house ...You spend a lot of time with these guys and you care about these guys so I just really miss seeing them every day.”
The Grady Sports Bureau is part of the sports media program at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.