The last seven months might characterize Lebanon Valley College’s athletic director Rick Beard’s job as the proverbial duck, paddling and working very hard inside the water, but what everyone sees is a smiling and calm face.
“We have tried to take a positive approach to the current COVID situation by trying to make the best of it,” said Beard. “We followed the NCAA guidelines for sport resocialization and I think our coaches and student-athletes had a positive experience. We gradually worked our way to the point where we were having some intra-squad scrimmages. While we’re disappointed we could not compete against outside competition, it did allow us time to focus on some other things like leadership, character, diversity inclusion and community service.
“Actually, from the time we came back in August, we phased in the practices making sure we maintained social distance, had masks on and progressed to where we could do different things,” continued Beard. “I’m proud of all our coaches and athletes for doing the things they needed to do.”
A 1985 graduate of Lebanon High, where he played football, basketball and track, Beard is also a 1990 graduate of LVC, where he played football. He was also a player on the Jolly Molly fast-pitch softball team that won the 1989 Class A National Softball championship.
Unfortunately he didn’t get to go to those games because football practice at LVC had started. Beard’s introduction to the Annville school came when Jim Monos replaced Lou Sorrentino, who stepped down as the head football coach, and Tom Jordan and Frank Reich Sr. became part of the staff.
“Tom and Frank kind of recruited me to go to LVC, and I met Jim and got on the team that way,” said Beard. “Upon graduation, Monos hired me as a graduate assistant football coach, and I did that for 15 years, then eventually Lou stepped down as AD and hired Kathy Tierney to replace him. I was an Assistant Athletic Director for Kathy, then in 2007 she left and I was promoted to Athletic Director.”
The most frustrating thing for Beard was that high school sports were going on all around.
The NCAA testing guidelines made it very difficult for schools like Lebanon Valley College to compete against outside competition. Despite that, if at the beginning of August he had known they would be in the current situation to make it this far, he would have taken that all day long.
“Our conference presidents are very supportive of competing in the spring, so we will look at testing protocols for low, medium and high transmission risk sports,” said Beard. “From there, we will look at scheduling models for different lengths of seasons for each sport.”
On a positive note, no matter how many contests are played in the 2020-21 season, all student-athletes will not lose a season of eligibility. Meanwhile, the athletic directors are looking at this year as a developmental one, and use it to do a lot of good things both on and off the field to ensure a meaningful experience.
“As far as the hockey season and using the arena, we’ve been practicing by following their protocols,” Beard said. “As big as that arena is, we feel we can follow the guidelines, including the established capacity guidelines.”
Beard did admit he still has one big concern that has to do with the testing but overall he is pleased and remains optimistic saying, “Once you have that information there is a lot of work that involves contact tracing and quarantining. We have learned so much from the first semester that we will get back to the drawing board and develop an improved plan for the second semester.
“What we did in this first semester was make use of the time to work on various fundamental areas, which is not the worst thing in the world to do,” added Bearnd. “In the worst case scenario we’d have a second semester like the first. All I can really say is we will have a plan.”