SANTA ROSA BEACH — With more than 800 career victories, 24 postseason appearances, nine Final Fours, three state championships and three Hall of Fame enshrinements, Kevin Craig has seen and done just about everything.
The COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing and online schooling, however, is totally new to South Walton’s legendary girls basketball coach
“Who would have thought anything like this would ever happen,” Craig said. “No one ever thought about anything like this.”
Still, after a crash course in online teaching and Zoom, Craig is tackling these new problems with his typical fervor.
The Daily News sat down with Craig to see just how the transition is going.
So how has the social distancing affected you personally?
It’s not really too bad. It’s not like at this point in my life I go out and do a whole lot. I’ve got my ninth-grade son and my wife. My older sons don’t live here. I keep in touch with my players by text; I sent them some articles and some workouts to do on their own. But social distancing really hasn’t affected me whatsoever. I’m kind of a homebody. My wife is, too. She owned her own travel agency for years and worked out of the house for 20 years. Then she gave that up and started working for a rental agency. She got back to working at home a couple weeks ago, so she’s good with that.
Out of all the postponements and cancellations between pro and college, what sport do you miss the most and why?
I think like a lot of people this time of year, I miss the NCAA basketball tournaments. Both the men and the women. I really miss that. And I like the high school sports. I feel bad for the high school coaches, the softball, baseball and track teams. I feel bad for them and the kids. I always enjoyed this time of year after basketball season just to go out and watch baseball and softball. It’s just really relaxing to go out and watch the kids from our school.
What does a world without sports look like to you?
I guess because of what we’re going through, I really haven’t thought about it that much. I listen to sports talk radio on the way to school in the morning or on the way somewhere, but I won’t leave it on that long. I’ll turn on music or something. In all honesty, I have not really missed it because of what the whole world and, obviously, our country is going through. That’s just taken up my interest. I haven’t really thought much about the sports at all. It’s not that it’s not my passion; it obviously is, but this kinda takes the top of totem pole in terms of all that with your family and everything else. My sister lives in the middle of Manhattan, and I worry about her. She’s 68 and she’s very healthy, but I still worry about her. She’s surrounded by it.
Have you watched or binged anything good?
I’m an “Andy Griffith” guy. They have it on so much. I flip back on to that or “M-A-S-H.” I watch those two in my downtime. And when my wife’s done with work, we watch all the murder-mysteries you could ever imagine.
Anything else you’ve been doing to stay busy?
I walk the dogs a heck of a lot more than I ever did. We have some woods across the street from us that are really expansive. I’ll sit outside and read; I’ve been doing a lot of reading. I’ll sit outside and get some sun.
What kind of advice have you offered your athletes for dealing with the pandemic?
I really haven’t. I’ve been kinda worried a lot more about technology than I ever have before with the things that deal with education and about Zoom. I thought about getting on with them, but I didn’t want to make it to where basketball was that important. I just text them and I send them articles or I’ll text them to ask how they’re doing, how their families are doing … I haven’t gone into discussing those things. I’m really interested to see when the dust settles and everything is clear how much they’ve missed it. I want to see how much the kids may have changed in terms of not just basketball, but maturity wise.
What’s been the general response to ‘How are you doing?’
They don’t say a whole lot. ‘We’re good.’ ‘Everything’s fine.’ Not a whole lot.
That’s teenagers for you.
And how has the transition to an online classroom gone?
It’s certainly different for someone like me, who’s done P.E. or been working in the administrative office for so long, especially the last few years. It’s really kinda interesting. I’ve learned a lot about this, and it’s really been nice learning some new technology. The kids communicate with me, and I communicate with their parents somewhat. They appreciate everything that teachers are doing. It’s really kinda nice. They know it’s very difficult for how we’ve had to approach this. Especially for the dinosaurs like me, it’s a whole new world.