Nearly two months after being named the Wheaton College Director of Athletics and Recreation, Gavin Viano found himself, along with his staff, working remotely due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
But despite the distance, Viano and his staff have remained upbeat and positive. They have also found ways to stay connected through video conferencing, which is something the new Lyons’ boss is “grateful for” these days.
“The ability to see each other (through Zoom or other video conferencing platforms), it really helps to feel connected and stay productive,” said Viano, who competed for the Clark University men’s swimming and diving program.
“COVID-19 has disrupted the natural rhythm of campus life and everyday life … but the goal is to stay connected, stay motivated, and to simply be there for each other.”
And being there, both for his coaches and student-athletes, as well as other members of the Wheaton community remains Viano’s main priority while assisting various members of his department with a slew of projects, including last week’s NCAA D-III Week coverage to generating new content for the Lyons’ website and social media channels.
Wheaton College NCAA D-III Week Stories
- Wheaton Athletics Spotlight: Luke Thombs and Ethan Thombs (Apr. 16th, 2020)
- Wheaton Athletics Spotlight: Kyra Schwartzman (Apr. 15th, 2020)
- Wheaton Athletics Spotlight: Mark D’Augelli (Apr. 13th, 2020)
We recently caught-up with Viano to learn more about how he and his staff are staying connected with the student-athletes and Wheaton community during this time to what he envisions sporting events looking like in the post-coronavirus world.
During such a confusing and uncertain time, how do you keep your staff and student-athletes engaged and still active within the campus, even if they cannot be physically present?
We meet more frequently (virtually) as a department than we did prior to COVID-19. We schedule individual meetings more frequently to compensate for the inability to pop-in and see each other on a daily basis.
We’ve taken to social media as a place to not only interact as a community but to offer programming relative to health, strength and conditioning ideas. We have offered intramural video game tournaments, promoted virtual career services programming and even social media account takeovers.
We have been highlighting alumni, staff, and students on our athletics’ homepage three days a week while our Wheaton Athletic Mentors (WAMs) have been producing “virtual coffee” meetings with our faculty and staff that we have shared to our fans and followers.
Both our coaches and recreation staff are doing many things virtually with their teams and students while we are also trying to take advantage of the programming that is being offered by other departments on campus, including the Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services.
A prevalent topic floating on social media these days has been the absence of sports. This scary time has shown us that sports aren’t just sports. They bring us together and offer a sense of joy and excitement. How do you feel the sports world will change in the post-pandemic world?
If I had to guess what will be different, I think smaller crowds at live events, especially at the professional level and the NCAA’s Power Five level will be the norm for a while. I would imagine that live sports will come back first as “made for TV” events – I am thinking no fans or maybe a handful from the get-go. Then we’ll see a gradual increase in attendance over the next two to three years.
At the small college level, I think you’ll see fans a lot more spread out around the venue, than in the past. People will come together, but they won’t crowd together, at least not right away.
Will there be an even greater appreciation for sports than before?
I think there is going to be a greater appreciation for lots of things that we all took for granted. I think the experience of watching live sports will certainly be one of those things.
Finally, what advice or words of encouragement would you like to give those seniors who lost their winter and spring seasons?
First, I would say that it is normal and necessary to take a few days or even a month or two, to go through the mental process of having a final season ended so abruptly. There will be moments of sadness, anger, confusion, and regret, along with other emotions, as well. Those emotions need to be acknowledged, because that loss of a season is real, and I empathize with these student-athletes.
My advice to anybody, including myself, at this unprecedented time, is to be thankful for what you do have and try not to focus on what you don’t have or what you can’t control. If you are healthy and if your loved ones are healthy, that’s a pretty good place to start each day.
‘Catching Up’ with Wheaton College Director of Athletics and Recreation Gavin Viano was produced by both Matt Noonan and Mia Len.