PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — This could be a time when area coaches are on offseason mode, away form their players.
But many find themselves having more dialogue with players now than during the school year. As the country wrestles with the unrest following the death of George Floyd, coaches are hoping to be a key resource for young athletes trying to process their feelings.
“We feel some of the pain but not just our athletes of color,” said Illinois Central College basketball coach Tony Wysinger. “We’re talking to all of our athletes so they understand that we are in some trying times but we are here.”
Wysinger hasn’t been able to meet with his players face-to-face since March. The coronavirus outbreak caused ICC to close its athletic offices and facilities as students left classes for remote learning.
“We want them to understand that if they do need someone to talk to, we are here to mentor and to provide that guidance and leadership they need,” Wysinger said.
Coaches are calling their players or meeting with the m video video conferences. Most are saying the conversations have been healthy as their players react to the protests around the nation and in central Illinois.
Peoria was hit with looting late Sunday night and early Monday morning.
“Two wrongs don’t make it right,” said Manual Academy basketball coach Willie Coleman. “You feel like the situation is wrong, then you go and do the same kind of wrong (thing), it doesn’t make it right.”
Coleman says he’s trying to prevent his players and their friends from believing it’s acceptable to react to the unrest with violence.
“At some point, somebody has to try and make it right,” he said. “We have to figure out, as a community, which positive way to get through this situation.”