(Editor’s note: Following is a two-part series centering on St. Bonaventure master strength and conditioning coach Darryn Fiske. Today: How he and the Bonnies have staged at-home workouts during quarantine).
ST. BONAVENTURE — Their situations and what’s available to them, as you might imagine, vary significantly.
Kyle Lofton, in Hillside, N.J., has been able to access a nearby track for cardio work. Jaren English, with the help of his professional baseball-playing brother, was able to construct a makeshift home gym. Alejandro Vasquez, in the heart of the most affected region of the country as a resident of Queens, has been more limited in his options.
St. Bonaventure’s men’s basketball players, for the last three-and-a-half months, have, of course, been scattered about the country, tethered to their hometowns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That distance and a lack of uniform training facilities has created less-than-ideal conditions in terms of working out collectively, master strength coach Darryn Fiske acknowledged. It’s forced him to become more creative with workout plans than he’s ever needed in two-plus decades as the training specialist at Bona.
In that time, however, he’s made it work … as much as any team can make it work in this coronavirus era.
“What we try to do is we start with a very general template and then we try to make it as specific as possible to what they have available to them,” said Fiske, regarding the Bonnies’ ongoing at-home workouts. “So, someone who has access to a gym, if we’re doing air squats, they might be doing actual barbell squats. If we’re doing rows with a loaded backpack, they might actually be able to do it on a machine or with a dumbbell or barbell ...
“We try to tailor it to that kid with the idea that we’re all kind of working the same areas, but maybe in a different sort of way depending on what they have.”
THE MEN’S basketball team currently trains “together” Monday-Friday, beginning at 11 a.m., over Zoom.
Workouts start with a “dynamic warmup” as a group — “jumping jacks, squat thrusts, stuff to just get the body warmed up,” Fiske said, before moving into more general training so that players can operate at their own pace.
Instead of in the S.D. Boser varsity weight room at the Reilly Center, Bona has been lifting remotely three days a week. Instead of field work at the Marra Athletics Complex — flipping tires and sprints — it’s done high-intensity interval training twice a week, “where we get their heart rate up a little bit.”
“Because a lot of kids, they’re still quarantined,” Fiske said from his office Monday. “For those guys, the only cardiovascular they’re doing are the two ‘hit’ sessions with me in a given week.”
Bona and its players understand that no one, from either a strength and conditioning standpoint, is where the coaching staff would expect him to be under normal circumstances. English, in mid-June, said although he hasn’t been able to lift “the heaviest weight,” he’s at least been able to maintain his sophomore year strength.
Osun Osunniyi noted that although he doesn’t have access to a gym, he’s been able to run to stay in decent shape.
The good news is that this problem isn’t unique to Bona — this is how every Division I program in the country has had to do it. Additionally, by bringing its players back on July 18, as it announced over the weekend, and keeping them through the start of the school year, the staff is essentially getting the same length of an offseason window as it would under normal circumstances (rather than a six-week stretch for summer school in June and July, it’ll get those weeks in July and August).
FOR THE time being, time itself is still on the Bonnies’ side.
Upon their arrival, however, the challenge won’t lessen, it will merely shift: from having to conduct workouts remotely to having to play catch up, and with a myriad of health and safety protocols in place.
“When they get back to campus, I’m assuming that none of them have been able to run (to the degree needed under the watchful eye of a coach), even though some of them HAVE been running,” Fiske said. “Some of the guys have even been doing basketball stuff; they’re getting a little bit more than what I can personally give them …
“We’re kind of building a base … to where we can gradually get them back into shape while being mindful of the bubble (that we’ll be in). The nice thing about that is, by the time we get through this four-week window, school’s going to (potentially) start, and right when school starts, we’re going to be able to do preseason-type conditioning.”
“That’s the nice thing about our guys coming back so early.”
TODAY, FISKE will log into Zoom at 10:50 a.m. and hold a brief meeting with players before initiating the day’s workout.
In two weeks, when he and coach Mark Schmidt welcome their kids back for the first time since March, they’ll return to in-person training … though the landscape will look much different than it ever had before.
And that’ll be the subject of tomorrow’s Part 2.
His two member organizations have established joint guidelines on the safe return to training following inactivity. Bona, then, has a very specific plan it will follow to slowly reintroduce the Bonnies to the intensity they’re accustomed to.
“It’s called the 50-30-20-10 rule,” Fiske said. “If I had them out on the field and we would normally do 10 110-yard sprints, we’re going to start off at five and we’re going to give them a little bit more time rest-wise. They’ve still got to do it in a specific amount of time, but we’re going to increase that rep time.
“Then, next week, they might be doing eight, then the following week they might be doing nine … we’ll really get their rest down to where it should be, and then that last week, we are at a full go.”
(J.P. Butler, Bradford Publishing Company group sports editor, can be reached at email@example.com)