NCAA coaches start social media campaign to unite against COVID-19

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New York’s 44 Division I men’s and women’s basketball coaches united under the banner of TEAM NEW YORK,
Photo courtesy of Team New York

While the NCAA canceled its season in March before the madness could even begin, several local coaches have come together to fight COVID-19.

On April 15, New York’s 44 Division I men’s and women’s basketball coaches united under the banner of TEAM NEW YORK, designed to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Over the coming weeks, each of the coaches has committed to using his or her platform to coordinate sharing messages that will encourage proper action to stop the spread of the virus.

Organized by the AAU basketball program The New York RENS, the campaign was inspired by Governor Cuomo and pulled together by Andy Borman, executive director of the RENS and Syracuse grad assistant Horwitz.

Fordham’s Jeff Neubauer and Stephanie Gaitley and Manhattan’s Steve Masiello and Heather Vulin started the campaign. Fans can follow the #TEAMNEWYORK on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

“When Andy reached out it was a no-brainer,” Masiello said. “What a terrific idea that he got all the other New York head coaches to be on board.”

The coaches will stress the following points on their respective social media platforms: practice social distancing and avoid crowds, wash your hands and cover your cough, don’t touch your face, look out for New Yorkers at-risk, clean frequently touched surfaces and objects and wear a cloth face covering in public settings.

Masiello spoke to the Bronx Times about the coaches’ message and how his team is dealing with the crisis.

“I think the thing that has been the hardest is you can’t work with kids or recruit kids,” he said. “I think it’s been challenging because of the uncertainty. We all feel a little powerless.”

In his 21 years of coaching he has never experienced anything like this. There are too many unknowns as to when things will return to normalcy, so really right now he is more concerned about his players’ well being than anything else.

He has been checking in on them daily, making sure their families are healthy and letting them know he’s there to talk if needed. The coach stressed that in these times of isolation, a focus on mental health and not sports, is crucial.

“I think first and foremost you can’t worry about basketball right now,” he explained. “If you are out of shape, that is an easy fix. We’re all in the same boat. This is a universal challenge that we’re dealing with.”

The coach encourages his guys to get exercise if possible but also sometimes just chats with them about what they have been watching on Netflix.

“It’s probably frustrating to go from working out non-stop to basically life being put on hold,” he said.