The coronavirus has taken control of people’s lives. It canceled March Madness. It postponed the Olympics. It canceled spring sports. It shut down businesses and cost people their jobs. It put timelines on hold.
But it has also allowed people — like Missouri State basketball head coach Dana Ford — to spend time with their families who may not ordinarily get to be home.
The Bears’ season ended at the Missouri Valley Conference tournament in a semifinal loss to Valparaiso on March 7. Typically, Ford and his staff would begin the offseason in a recruiting frenzy, on the road at the NJCCA Championships.
But a global pandemic had a different idea.
“Right now, I would be on the road recruiting nonstop,” Ford said. “We’ve still got to get a couple of players for next year’s team.”
Missouri State graduated five seniors with one athlete so far to enter the transfer portal. Ford said despite being quarantined, he and his staff are working the phones relentlessly to fill the team.
“We’re using every technology resource we have — calls, Facetime, Zoom,” Ford said. “I can barely get my phone battery above 15%.”
While Missouri State can still recruit remotely, there’s a chance the team could be delayed to start offseason practices. Ford said if he was a betting man, it would surprise him if his players made it to campus by June.
Aside from recruiting calls, the Division I head coach is using his newfound free time to hang out with his family.
Now, a typical day for Ford includes waking up at 6 a.m. with the 1-year-old and letting his wife sleep in. His days include trying to help his young children with online learning, reading devotions, playing board games, making puzzles, walking the dog and playing outside at all hours.
Quarantine days also bring on the “honey-do lists,” which involve cooking and cleaning. But Ford said he understands his blessings and knows it’s a good thing.
The basketball coach said it’s been like a mini summer vacation — a time to focus on family. In August, the Ford household gets to spend quality time together before basketball begins to take over.
“We’re trying to look at the positives in this situation,” Ford said. “I do think my kids will remember this time because this is as much as they’ve seen me, consecutively, probably since they’ve been alive.”
Ford has documented his quarantine on Twitter, keeping his followers updated on daily revelations and light-hearted analyses. The Bears coach said he thinks it’s important to shed a positive light on dark situations.
“I think everybody’s situation is different, and as a leader, I think I feel some responsibility,” Ford said. “What I can’t do is make up the income that some families are missing or cure any sicknesses. But if I can make somebody laugh for even two seconds, then hopefully I’ve helped them in some way.”