You might be able to take the athlete out of competition, but you can’t take the competition out of the athlete.
Despite the coronavirus keeping the College of the Canyons football players apart from one another and in quarantine, they have still been able to find a way to compete against one another via their social media accounts — with even a few alum jumping into the competition.
Every Thursday during the off season, the Cougar football team holds competition Thursday. Whether it be to see who can run the fastest 40-yard-dash, or do the most push-ups or bench press the most weight, the athletes spend their off-season training with and against one another.
“In the offseason, we want to get these guys going against each other, going all out, going hard,” said COC football head coach Ted Iacenda. “There’s some real stakes and there’s a prize at the end, and there’s a winner and a loser.”
Iacenda said the idea started a few years ago, and has since blossomed into something that has improved his team’s camaraderie and competitive drive, even during the offseason.
Once the statewide mandate came out, keeping them from practicing with one another or even congregating in the weight room, Iacenda decided to keep Competition Thursday going — but through social media.
“We still need a sense of normalcy,” said Iacenda.
The competition follows the same schedule previously established before the quarantine. For instance, this past Thursday was a “burpee” challenge, in which the athletes tried to complete as many burpees as they could in a minute — a strength/aerobic exercise where the individual goes from a standing position, to hitting the ground with their chest and jumping back up to their feet once again.
They filmed their minute, adding the hashtags #CompetitionThursday and #ThisIPromise, and then tagged a teammate they wanted to challenge.
The winner for the burpee challenge would be the first player to finish the challenge and post it, and they, along with the title of winner, would receive a “Quarantine Cougar” t-shirt.
“I just got out of bed, ’cause I was watching TV, and I did it real fast,” said current COC freshman and linebacker Jonathan Thomas. “It was cool and it was fun to see everyone doing it.”
Thomas said he was able to complete 12 burpees in a minute, and he was the second-to-last competitor in the challenge.
“When I saw the challenge on my phone, I said, ‘I got to do it,’ because I’m just that type of person,” said Thomas.
After Iacenda did his own challenge, along with other members of his coaching staff, filming it and putting it on his own Twitter profile, some former players wanted to go head-to-head against their old coach.
“I don’t remember a number I did, but I know I did more than Coach I and Coach Corbet,” said Tariq Speights, a 2018 community college All-American who now plays middle linebacker at Eastern Michigan. “And that’s all that matters to me.”
Both players and coaching staff said the challenge accomplished its goal: keeping their camaraderie and team bond up in spite of the crisis.
“I was hoping for the response I got, but never in my wildest dreams did I think that it would take off like it did,” said Iacenda. “Gosh, it was … it was a fun day, there’s no doubt.”