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High School Sports

Technology is keeping coaches and athletes connected in time of social distancing

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Garfield football coach Lorenzo Hernandez, using his virtual background, talks to his coaches on a Zoom video conference.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

“Hey, can you see me?”

“Are you eating cereal?”

“It’s Denzel.”

“Miss you.”

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Those were among the lines overheard during the first moments of a Zoom video conference involving Garfield football coaches.

With schools closed, fields and gyms locked and social-distancing measures in full force, coaches and athletes are using technology to help them stay in touch.

“We’re trying to distance ourselves but stay connected,” said Harvard-Westlake basketball coach David Rebibo, who is using Zoom and Google Classroom to pass along workouts and keep connected with his players.

Video is certainly better than a phone conference call for many.

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“We get to see who is doing pushups and who isn’t,” Rebibo said. “We just look at their arms.”

You also get to see who’s trying to grow a beard.

“I saw two mustaches,” El Camino Real baseball coach Josh Lienhard said after having a Zoom conference with his 19 players last week.

Zoom could be very helpful for football staffs who are unable to meet with their players in April and May, when conditioning and putting in offensive and defensive schemes is usually taking place.

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Garfield coach Lorenzo Hernandez was scheduled on Monday to have his first Zoom video conference with his team’s offensive and defensive players. He has access to several virtual backgrounds to get his players fired up.

Hernandez held his first Zoom meeting with coaches this week, advising them to keep pushing players to remain focused on their online studies and staying in shape.

“Remember, it’s not about the fruit,” he said. “It comes after. Let’s keep watering.”

If schools remain closed and fields and weight rooms remain unavailable, coaches are likely to rely even more on technology to stay connected with players.

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Zoom is becoming one of the favorite platforms. “It’s pretty cool,” Hernandez said.

And with large social gatherings off limits, video conferencing is something that the sports world is embracing and it could be here to stay.

Hernandez said that instead of coaches having to come to school on a Sunday in the fall, perhaps he’ll use Zoom so they can conduct business from their homes.

“When social distancing is done, you’ll do less, but perhaps coaches will do conference Zoom instead of conference calls,” Rebibo said.


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