DELAND, FLA -- Embrace the struggle.
It's the message he's Donnie Jones preached to his team since his introductory press conference one year ago.
For 32 years, he's challenged adversity head on finding the silver lining in uncertainty. In the midst of a global pandemic, he's found a silver lining.
"Adversity is another opportunity as we all know so I’ve been able to reconnect with some momentum with my family right now. It’s been great.”
Entering his 2nd season as head coach at Stetson, Jones was entering his first offseason with momentum. That momentum came after the Hatters succeeded in a season laced with adversity.
Stetson finished the season 16-16, a stellar finish by a young team playing for a program that hasn't had a winning season in nearly two decades.
"We climbed a lot of hurdles this year. We were never in our locker room one day this year since September so there were a lot of firsts for us this season.”
That vacant locker room is the result of a dryer fire inside the Edmunds Center prior to the start of the season. Stetson made due. Now they're doing the same as coronavirus has altered their first offseason under Jones.
“We’ve got to refocus and realize the normal is not normal anymore. As a leader we’ve got to realize that’s the case most of the time. We’ve got to be able to adapt. We’ve really put the effort into focusing on our team.”
Jones and his staff are adapting as best they can. Offseason work continues from afar. Zoom chats for film breakdowns and facetime calls for player workouts is the new normal.
“We’ve had to become more innovative coaches. How can we coach our guys without touching them and being around them everyday and how can we impact their mind when we can’t touch them physically.”
Jones is still hopeful Stetson can continue carrying momentum into next season. The Hatters return their core of talent including leading scorer Rob Perry.