In 2019, South Glens Falls High School boys’ basketball coach Chris Cottrell spent the Christmas holiday preparing for the Bulldogs’ upcoming holiday tournament games.
With COVID-19 sidelining the current high school basketball season in New York, he made even bigger plans.
“We don’t have that this year, and a lot of student-athletes are missing it and coaches are missing it,” Cottrell said. “I think coaches have a responsibility to their student-athletes to demonstrate leadership and then to take action.
“We always tell our athletes don’t complain, don’t make excuses and we’re up against it right now,” he said. “Instead of blaming the state for what we can’t do, there are a lot of people that need our support in our communities who give our teams and our programs support throughout our seasons.”
Cottrell established “Coaches vs. COVID” – a call to action for all Section II coaches and community members to support small businesses while continuing the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.
He is promoting the purchase of apparel, including a T-shirt through a local business, and encouraging Section II coaches, players, and fans to make an additional purchase locally, then take a photo for social media and post it with the hashtag #LeadLocal.
“This high school sports season is going to be different for everybody,” Cottrell said. “You want to have an article of clothing that maybe for nostalgia purposes, you could remember kind of what we went through and how we handled it together.”
A Queensbury graduate, Cottrell would be in his second year at the helm of the Bulldogs after two years coaching at Hudson Falls. Previously, he coached for a dozen years at Division II colleges Lincoln Memorial University along with Davis and Elkins College before returning to the area.
Cottrell said he knows his student-athletes and their peers are going through a lot right now. Sports deemed “high” risk, such as basketball, are currently unable to play their seasons in New York.
“I’m sad. I’m disappointed for my student-athletes. I’m frustrated. I’m upset. I go through a wide range of emotions because we’re not doing what we all want to be doing right now,” he said. “But we still have a responsibility to lead our student-athletes to be leaders in our communities. I think this is an opportunity to do so.”
While not drawing up plays, Cottrell is coaching his student-athletes on a different front.
“Be patient and be diligent, continue to focus on the most important things, like academics,” Cottrell said.
He tells his players and parents if there is a season for basketball, he’ll be ready.
“I have a plan in place for any scenario that could happen,” he said.
In return, he is reaching out to the Section II community to support his call to action in each community.
“You don’t have to be a coach to buy the shirt, you don’t have to be a coach to order take-out, you don’t have to be a coach to retweet it on social media,” Cottrell said. “You just have to want to lead your community and do your best right now, because out there are people struggling and they need our support.”
To purchase a “Coaches vs. COVID” T-shirt, visit hallwear.com. For more information, contact Cottrell at [email protected]
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