In a sport where growth happens through set schedules and consistent practice routines, football head coach Landon Fox’s creativity has become his asset during this time of uncertainty. Whether the focus is on the past, present, or future, Fox has been critical with his players on adaptation and versatility.
“You can be a product of your vision or be a product of your circumstances and our vision is to be the best football team that we can be and be the best person that we can be and be the best student we can be each and every day, and that is the number one goal,” said Fox.
The past six months for Fox and his staff has been nothing but fluid for their approach towards football during the COVID-19 pandemic. From the middle of March to the middle of April, the team spent their time on Zoom calls doing “Installs,” or team meetings talking about their offense, defense and special team playstyles.
As the semester wrapped up, Fox had the team look at early scouting in May and early June. Later down the line, they started to look at the team’s film from the 2019 season.
However, not all of the team's calls were focused on football. Other calls tended to shift towards deepening the program’s team values.
“We do have core values in our program that represent days of the week. So you use those core values to do some of the things you talk about and then we were very intentional about the different activities. When we did Zoom, it was not always about football, it could be a variety of different things that we did to get to know the guys,” Fox said.
As Fox was approaching the latter half of June and going into July, many of the players' schedules began to change. For Fox, this didn’t stop them. He still continued to engage with the players over video calls, but also provided them material to study on their own time.
“[Their] circumstances became a little bit different. Going into June and into July, they were getting jobs or everyone’s schedules were getting to be a little different. We had to get creative in finding the ways in giving the information,” said Fox.
Now back on campus, the former Dayton defensive coordinator now feels a sense of semi-normalness. Although COVID-19 has limited his team’s practice time, it hasn’t stopped Fox from encouraging his players to work hard and enjoy their time together.
“I feel very fortunate to be in the position that we are in now. We are allowed to get twelve hours a week with the guys, five of which can be on the field. So we have been able to do that, and it has been fun to get back out on the field and be able to coach the guys.”
An interesting blip on Valpo’s journey during the pandemic happened in late August. Former NFL linebacker Chris Borland came out to talk to Valpo’s football team, emphasizing on how important it was to focus on the smaller techniques that help players and teams succeed.
“The message that he talked about is something that we talk about a lot, but it is just the details and everything that you do,” said Fox.
One of Fox’s biggest adjustments was addressing how the entire team was to meet while taking into consideration the seriousness of making sure that his players continue to stay healthy.
“A lot of our bigger, larger meetings have been outside, [and we are] being really conscious of the social distancing and keeping that six feet apart. We can’t be naive to what is going on, so if we are going to be able to do these things, we have to do our part and make sure that we are first and foremost promoting a safe environment,” Fox said.
Looking forward, Fox is excited about how the team will continue to develop in the coming months, especially from the players that are new to the Valpo Football program.
“We are extremely excited about the leadership of our upperclassmen and how they handled the last six months, and we are excited about the large freshman class. We are very excited about those guys and filling in the program and working on their development,” Fox said.