Coach Bryan Blitz has been at the helm of Missouri’s soccer program since it began in 1996. His 25th season with the Tigers is on the horizon, assuming the coronavirus pandemic subsides enough to allow for competition in the fall. In the midst of what has been anything but a normal offseason, he agreed to answer some questions from the Missourian.
How has the pandemic affected your offseason and spring practices?
“Like most of athletics, whether you’re in season or out of season, you are kind of in a non-traditional season. It was wild, right? We got the news (of athletic activities being canceled), and that night we let our team know, and then within a day and a half, everybody just went home … And then from there, as we started to learn more each day, first we had to make sure everyone got home safe, and then schoolwork, schoolwork, schoolwork, and then team meetings once a week. It’s really about academics and, ‘How is your life going? What’s it like where you’re at? Is your family home?’”
Do you know how the fallout from the pandemic might affect your fall scheduling, in terms of where you might be able to travel and who you could play?
“We had a trip that we had planned to (Los Angeles), and we canceled that about three weeks ago, and like everybody else, became more regionalized. Obviously at the time, L.A. was a hotspot, now you see some of the schools canceling (the California State University System recently announced it would not hold on-campus classes this fall). So it looks like a genius move on our part, but we were going to do that anyway. We don’t know when the season will start or what it’s going to look like, probably like volleyball, football, and then cross country, the four fall sports. So we’ll just kind of wait and see, but we’ve been trying to plan on anything and everything … Commissioner (Greg) Sankey from the SEC said it best: The virus is definitely in charge.”
What’s something you’ve been doing as a hobby during quarantine?
“Me and my wife, she works in neurosurgery at the hospital, we’ve picked up bike riding. We live right by the trail, and we have four kids in college age range … Me and my wife have become trail bike riding people, and we try to go further and further each time we do it. We try to go twice a week, see a little nature, ride the bike.”
I noticed you joined Twitter earlier this year. How are you enjoying that?
“Yeah, it’s pretty new … I try to keep it as positive as possible, you know, animals, dogs, and try to highlight anything that we might be doing that maybe could brighten somebody’s day. That’s kind of been my Twitter education, and I’m going to continue to try to keep it as positive as possible.”
If you had to be quarantined with one other member of the soccer coaching staff, who would you pick?
“Well, I can give three choices. One, my trainer, in case I got sick, my athletic trainer obviously could take care of me. Two, if I was really struggling with not having a positive day, I’d get my (mental) performance person, and then if I wanted to stay super fit I’d get my strength and conditioning coach. I’m not doing soccer, so I’m not picking any specific soccer coach at this point.”