The Stanford Cardinal are back on the football field in just over two weeks. In an unprecedented season and offseason full of trials and tribulations, the team is back practicing in what could be considered their training camp for the 2020 football campaign.
However, unlike normal training camps, the Cardinal student-athletes are just that, students first. Normal training camps don’t see the student-athletes in classes at the same time, thus allowing for much more freedom of workout timeframes, film sessions, on-field practices, etc.
With classes in session while attempting to get to a place to be ready to play a football game in two and a half weeks, coupled with daily testing for Covid-19, classwork and virtual class attendance, this is absolutely one of the most trying ‘preseasons’ for these Stanford athletes.
And then, as head coach David Shaw put it, there’s an added wrinkle when his players returned to the University, because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“The restrictions from the state and county and university when we brought everyone back, we had a plan and we had to adjust those plans based on when those guys came back at different times,” Shaw said during a press conference. “They had to quarantine at the same time. And then we put those guys in their groups together. So some of those guys knew each other, but once they became a ‘pod,’ they had to train together, to eat together. I think some guys on our team got to learn about their teammates a bit better.”
The players were grouped into pods to limit any potential spread of Covid-19, and as such, it prompted players to be grouped with each other that they normally wouldn’t have chosen to be grouped with.
“I think initially it was a bit disheartening to some of them because usually at this time, especially to juniors and seniors, ‘Hey I want to lift with whomever, I want to workout or run with this group, and then I want to each breakfast or lunch with this group,’ and they weren’t able to do that,” Shaw added. “So, I think initially, it was uncomfortable, not necessarily uncomfortable, it was not what they would have chosen.”
Coupling all of the factors against them this offseason and preseason, it’s almost crazy to think that these student-athletes will not only be undergoing classwork, a full training camp on the field and also installing an offensive and defensive scheme for their season opener at Oregon in just over two weeks time.
As optimistic as he could be, however, Shaw thinks the forced ‘togetherness’ for his players will ultimately help them out as a team in the end.
“A lot of guys got to know each other and I think in the long run it will help us.”