TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After more than two months of social distancing, Mike Norvell has been on enough videoconferences to last for the rest of his life.
Yes, Florida State’s football coach is grateful to have such modern platforms to communicate with his staff and players while scattered about due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But he also can’t help but sometimes daydream about things getting back to normal.
“We’ve made the most of the situation that we’ve been dealt,” Norvell said during Seminole Boosters’ weekly Football Fix webinar, “but there’s nothing like everyone being together in one place.”
Even still, Norvell is pleased with what the Seminoles have been able to accomplish virtually, particularly in the classroom.
From Day 1, one of his favorite sayings has been, “How you do anything is how you do everything” – and that most certainly applies to academics.
Which is why Norvell was so thrilled when grades for the spring semester came out last week.
Despite a massive upheaval in their lives and routines, and despite having to complete their coursework online, the Seminoles still managed to post a combined team grade-point average of 3.127.
That’s the highest in the program’s history.
“It’s something that I was really excited (about) for them and really kind of just celebrated a lot of the growth that we’re seeing from these guys,” Norvell said. “We expect great things ahead.
“How you do anything is going to be how you do everything, and they really made a statement, academically, about the growth and development of where this team’s going.”
Exactly when the Seminoles are back at practice or inside Doak Campbell Stadium again remains to be seen.
But Norvell believes that a strong performance in the classroom is usually an indicator of good things to come on the field.
“More than anything else, I just want to see these guys compete,” he said. “That mindset of competition goes into the classroom, it goes into the weight room. In every aspect of their life, I want them to compete to be the best they can possibly be.”
Lately, Norvell and his staff have spent their time conducting “exit interviews” with every player on the team. Think of it as a 15-minute check-in where the coaches and player can review expectations, ask questions and voice any observations or concerns.
Normally, of course, those meetings would take place in Norvell’s office, but a videoconference has made for an acceptable substitute.
Giving a thorough assessment after just two months and three practices together might be the bigger challenge, although Norvell believes he’s found enough productive feedback to offer.
“Those (meetings) are going really well and are just an opportunity to kind of reflect on some of the strides we’ve seen. Missing out on the majority of spring practice, we focused on different areas. These guys, they’re excited about what we’re doing.”
And, like their coach, they’re excited about the idea of being together again. Even if it’s still only an idea.
In something of a cruel irony, Norvell and the Seminoles have now spent nearly as much time apart as they did together from the time of his hiring.
Thanks to technology and a positive attitude, they’ve been able to make things work – through individualized workout regimens and nutrition plans, as well as virtual team meetings.
There’s one thing, however, that modern technology can’t replicate. And that’s the camaraderie and bonds formed through working together – in the same place and at the same time – as part of a team and program.
“I definitely miss these guys,” Norvell said. “You try to spend as much time as you possibly can with each other, but to have that interaction, whether it’s just a pat on the back or to be able to go through those experiences, that’s what makes a football team special – everyone coming from different places for a common cause.
“We’re seeing a lot of great strides in what our guys are doing, but we’re definitely looking forward to having everybody back in Tallahassee.”