TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Mike Norvell is taking each day as it comes.
He doesn’t see much value in doing otherwise and, besides, things are changing so quickly that any thoughts or plans for what’s coming in the weeks and months ahead would likely soon be out of date anyway.
So, for now, Florida State’s football coach has a narrow focus.
“That’s just how I operate,” Norvell said in a videoconference with reporters on Tuesday. “That’s how I always operate.”
There’s plenty to keep him busy.
In the 10 days since FSU’s last spring football practice – the third of a scheduled 15 – Norvell has made every effort to keep his program running as effectively as it can.
Which, given measures enacted across the state, country and globe, typically means doing things virtually.
He uses digital conferencing platforms to meet with his staff, oversees communications from the program’s strength and nutrition staff to players scattered around the nation (and, in one case, on the other side of the world) and, most importantly, is constantly reaching out to the members of his team.
“I’ve communicated personally with every one of them on an individual basis,” Norvell said. “It’s hard. It takes time. But I’m going to continue to send and share videos with them. … So they can hear me. They can see me. (I want to) continue to keep them focused on what we’re all about and what we’re trying to do throughout this journey that they’re on.”
That journey now looks a whole lot different than it did earlier this month.
Not even two weeks ago, the Seminoles were holding their first practice in pads and gearing up to enter the heart of spring camp.
Fast-forward a bit, and now they’re not even sure when they’ll all be together again.
Norvell, of course, understands that the COVID-19 pandemic is far more important than football, and that no one had any control over the events that led to this circumstance.
Still, as a first-year coach laying a new foundation, he can’t help but be disappointed by the disruption.
Especially after seeing the progress that the Seminoles made in their academics and conditioning over the past few months since he took over.
“I was looking forward to the same thing there on the practice field,” he said.
Norvell doesn’t expect that progress should stop, either.
The Seminoles’ players and staff will just have to use some ingenuity as they keep moving forward.
FSU’s strength staff, for example, has provided players with an approved list of voluntary workouts to help maintain their conditioning while away. For those who don’t have access to a gym, those could include body-weight exercises or maybe even finding something heavy around the house.
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The Seminoles’ nutrition staff has been just as active in creating shopping lists that adhere to individual diet plans.
No, it might not be possible to recreate things as they were in Tallahassee. But any effort can make a difference.
Norvell said he’s pleased with the way his support staff has kept things going over the past few weeks.
“The best thing about our place,” he said, “is the people.”
Which is why Norvell believes that the most important thing the Seminoles can do during this time of separation is to remain close with one another – virtually.
He’s asked that each of FSU’s position coaches hold regular FaceTime video calls with their groups, so that they can see each other’s faces and hear each other’s voices as often as they can.
There’s no need to discuss film or technique or any of the other things that will come up once everything is back on track in Tallahassee.
For now, it’s enough to just enjoy their company.
“I don’t want football even to be talked about,” Norvell said. “Just to make sure they see each other. These guys, they love their teammates. They love the relationships that we have.”
Norvell, who just moved into his house two weeks ago, has made the most out of working from a home office while enjoying a little bit of extra time with his wife, Maria, and daughter Mila.
Digital staff meetings can take several hours, but that doesn’t stop Mila from coming in for a hug from Dad every so often.
Despite uncertain times around the world, and without much knowledge for what the next day will bring, Norvell is grateful for that much.
“Everybody is concerned. Everybody’s got fear of the unknown and what’s happening,” he said. “To be able to be with your family and be able to work through situations together (is a good thing).”