Clemson's head coach details unique road trip to Wake Forest
Because of COVID-19 and all of the safety precautions and protocols Clemson was forced to adhere to, the football team’s first road trip of the season to Wake Forest last weekend was much different than a typical road trip of the past, in multiple ways.
First of all, the players and staff had to get tested for the virus on Friday, per ACC rules, before they boarded the buses and departed for Winston-Salem. Then, as they traveled on the buses and the plane, everyone had to wear both a face mask and a face shield.
Clemson tried to keep its usual game-week Friday routine as normal as possible, but it was certainly a unique road trip for the Tigers from the time they left to when they returned home.
“We tried to keep our ‘Focus Friday’ the same as far as them going into our meetings and team meetings, segment meetings, and then we go to the stadium and always have a little 30-minute, what we call ‘game prep’ walk-through. And then lunch, get dressed up, we’re ready to go,” Swinney said Tuesday during his weekly meeting with the media.
“So, all that was normal, but we had to wear masks and shields on the bus and the plane. We had to double up on the bus and the plane, so that was a little bit of a challenge. But hey, as we say in the weight room all the time, you’ve got to embrace the suck, and that’s kind of where we are right now. Sometimes you’ve got to do things you don’t like to do, but that’s where we are and that’s what we had to do, and we got it done.”
Clemson’s program prides itself on having a culture of servant leadership, and Swinney and his staff put that into action when they served the players food at the team hotel.
“From a food standpoint, usually they go through and they serve themselves and get what they want,” Swinney said. “That’s typically how we do it, but there’s no staff there to serve and they weren’t allowed to serve themselves, so we had to do it. So, it was great. Listen, there’s washing people’s feet and there’s serving mashed potatoes — it’s kind of all the same thing. It was great. I had spaghetti one time, I had rice another time, so just making sure they got enough. But I thought it was great.”
Because the state of North Carolina is a COVID-19 hot spot, there were not many staff members working at the hotel, so the Tigers had to take care of a lot of things themselves.
“Going to the hotel in North Carolina, they’re in a different place right now, so very limited staff. In fact, I think this was like their first big event at the hotel since March,” Swinney said. “So, we pretty much had the whole hotel. We normally have multiple meeting rooms, but we could only have one meeting room, so we had to have one big space and then we would just put an air wall up when we needed to go separate offensively and defensively.
“So, it’s where we ate, where we met… We did a movie there and we had to break the room down, set it back up, clear it all out for the movie. Got them all these kind of little blow-up bean bag type things they could relax in and watch the movie. Had a great time with that, then had to reset it.”
Swinney credited his staff for embracing the unique challenges the road trip presented and for their willingness to help out any way they could.
“Our whole staff was amazing,” Swinney said. “The good thing is you didn’t have to ask anybody to do anything. Everybody took the initiative to just go look for work and find something to do. So, that was different. That was obviously not our norm, but it’s what we had to do. … Then we loaded up on game day and went and played the game. We ended up busing back, so a few differences, but we made it work.”
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