Rod Carey amid COVID-19 crisis: “We’re keeping a positive message”

Rod Carey showed up a few minutes late to a video news conference held Thursday afternoon. He was helping his 13-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter with their homework.

“I was upstairs dealing with the family, which is my new normal,” Carey said.

“My son is 13 and he’s a great student and I like to check his work regularly,” Carey said. “He does not like that. My daughter is 15 and is an outstanding student as well so we’re keeping her on task.”

The second-year head coach has been “soaking up” as much family time that he can get with his wife and two kids. He’s usually in his office at Edberg-Olson Hall for hours on end dealing with staff meetings, game tape, recruits and more, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced him to work from home. All of his assistants are doing the same.

Instead of focusing on all the negatives that the world has to offer right now, Carey has been very repetitive with keeping a positive message towards his team.

“The big message has been to stay positive the entire time,” Carey said. “From the position meetings that have been going on to checking in over phone calls, we’re just looking at the bright side. Checking in to see if their families are healthy, making sure they’re doing well, what’s their routine, and just keeping that positive message. We’re being very repetitive with it. If we can come together right now as a team through this, whenever we get back together, that’s gonna be a positive.”

One of the biggest things that Carey has had the chance to catch up on is recruiting. He made it a point several times that he and his staff never feel caught up on recruiting, but they’re a lot more organized than usual.

Right now the NCAA is in a dead period, so coaches can only communicate with recruits electronically. Carey and his staff have been talking with recruits via text message and Zoom.

“Now you really have the time to dive into all the information,” Carey said. “I always say my best time during the day is about 5:00 to 7:00 in the morning [in the office] when nobody’s around. I get a lot done in those two hours. Other than my family, nobody’s around right now. I’m getting about 7 or 8 quality hours of work in, and I know our coaches are too.”

Since most of Carey’s players don’t have a gym to go work out in, many of them have been coming up with creative ways to stay in shape during quarantine. Redshirt-junior Tyler Sear and redshirt-freshman Wisdom Quarshie have been chopping logs and log tossing, and redshirt-senior Eric Kiewlak “had two tires on a barbell and was hang-cleaning that the other day in his garage,” Carey added.

“The team is really working out as they can,” Carey said. “One of our guys set a personal record in bench because he has a bench in his garage. Other guys all they got is wide open spaces to use and that’s what they’re using. We’re sending them workouts and being as creative as we can. The guys have been very, very vocal in our groupme as far as getting back to us and saying what’s been going on and posting videos. In a way we’re getting to know our guys in a whole new way, which is fun and sometimes refreshing.”

As far as when things will return to normal for the Owls, Carey is hoping that by June 1 campus will open back up, meaning that players can return for summer workouts. The university has cancelled all activities through May 31.

The Owls only got two spring practices before having to stop, but Carey doesn’t even know if he wants that time back.

“My target date is that by June 1st, hopefully we’re back on campus,” Carey said. “I don’t know if we’ll get spring ball, but I don’t even know if I want spring ball back. When you get to June you’re getting awfully close to football season and I’d probably rather have a situation where we can train them again. That’s a solid two-and-a-half months off where they haven’t been in a weight room. We need to train them for safety purposes before we start to practice.”

The Owls are set to begin their 2020 season on September 5 against Miami and Manny Diaz. Carey was asked if he thinks there will even be a season at all next year.

“That’s way above my pay grade,” Carey said. “I don’t think anyone knows that yet.”

But for now, Carey is focused on spending as much time with his family that he can.

“We don’t get this much family time usually and we’re soaking it up,” Carey said. “Have we been fighting with each other? Every family does and if they haven’t they’re lying to you. But we’re certainly enjoying the time spent being around each other. There may not be a summer vacation in our future so we’re trying to make this time as good as we can.”

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