Lincoln coaches keep teams distant and healthy


Eric Dettman

Eric Dettman, head cross country and track and field coach, strides with the girls cross country team before Nike Cross Nationals 2019.

With Lincoln starting the school year online, fall sports have been significantly impacted and delayed. Fortunately, the Lincoln athletic department is still working hard to prepare and connect with athletes.

Some of Lincoln’s coaches, including head cross country and track and field coach Eric Dettman, have been working with the department in an attempt to let athletes practice, despite roadblocks.

“In terms of planning, it’s been challenging, as information and decisions are constantly changing,” said Dettman. “Although challenging, the kids are doing a phenomenal job of adapting.”

Due to health risks, all sports have had their official seasons moved to 2021. Teams are currently unable to meet in person which means athletes must train by themselves. One athlete, senior Mario Ambrose, even built his own weight rack out of wood last spring, according to Lincoln football coach Jeremy Johnson.

“Our athletic department completely understands the reason for shutting down sports this spring and summer,” said Lincoln Athletic Director Jessica Russell. “The health and safety of our students and staff is paramount. The last thing any of us wants is someone to get sick.”

In order to keep students safe, coaches are staying in contact by communicating with athletes individually and meeting with their teams online. They are making sure their athletes can continue to condition and maintain a connection with their team. 

“We meet online on Mondays for a team meeting to discuss our goals for that week and then again on Wednesday for core sessions. Additionally, I offer everyone the opportunity to meet with me one-on-one over Zoom every week, [which] the majority of kids have taken advantage of,” Dettman said. “My kids also know that my phone line and email are always open, and I am constantly having conversations with our athletes over those platforms as well.”

Coaches are laying out detailed training plans to help athletes stay in shape. These interactions do not just address physical needs, but also the mental focus and health of athletes.

“Our website has a home workout posted… Running, lifting and core activities are all part of the training-at-home plan we have employed and will continue to support,” said wrestling coach John Farinola. “We are [also] sending out tips, motivational messages, interesting wrestling facts and videos over [the] Remind App.”

Going beyond simply training In August the football team partnered with a local charity organization (Our Giving Table) and local restaurant (Al Amir Restaurant) to provide food for foster children in the Portland Metro area. 

“We are also preparing to serve as a clean-up crew for the Lincoln campus in partnership with Friends of Lincoln,” said Head Football Coach Jeremy Johnson. “Our student-athlete and coaches will be out on the campus to improve the appearance and prepare the vegetation for the winter months.”

In addition to these efforts, coaches are also thinking about how COVID-19 will affect team membership numbers. An inability to recruit new members and underclassmen will impact the size of teams and how they will perform in the years to come. To ensure success, coaches are planning for the future. 

“We will look for recruitment to stay strong by asking our athletes to talk to friends about joining,” Farinola said. “We will continue to keep our program available for club and other activities nights to share our sport with the greater community.”

While continuing to meet online and help athletes stay engaged, the Lincoln athletic department is exploring safe practices for teams if they are able to meet in person. 

“From a planning standpoint, we’ve sent in documentation to the district with our outlined plan of how to keep all athletes safe,” Dettman said. “Once given the go-ahead to meet, I’m confident that we can do so in a healthy and safe manner.”

A lack of practice has taken its mental and physical toll on Lincoln sports, but Russell is confident that the athletic department is doing everything they can to support the teams, coaches and athletes. 

“Our athletes and coaches love getting together to work hard, compete and be a part of a team,” said Russel. “Without physically getting together, a lot of us feel lost and isolated. We are hopeful the district will let us gather and compete safely very soon.”