This episode I talk with Adam Riley, Associate Principal/Activities Director and (temporary) head baseball coach of Decorah High School in Decorah, Iowa.
- What do the kids think about
- How he deals with parents that are all over the spectrum
- When does he see this ending?
- What does the decision making structure look like?
- Are will killing off our decision makers?
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About the Transcript
Keep in mind that the following is a transcript. I use a service that automates the first draft. As much as “artificial intelligence” is included in the description of every bit of technology these days, it’s clear that computers understanding human speech is more artificial than intelligent. The transcript has been edited to take out human speech bites, you know, um, okay, uh, but it’s not been edited to be an “article”.
Jon Johnston: Welcome to Jon’s PostLife Crisis. We’re going to just start into this today, we’re talking to Adam Riley, associate principal, high school activities director and temporary head baseball coach from Decorah, Iowa. That sounds like a lot of different hats you wear. I got worn out just saying it. How are things in Decorah?
Adam Riley: Things are great. It’s a glorious Friday here and sunshine in. And we could probably use a little rain like everybody else, but it’s all pretty good for an August day.
Jon Johnston: We’re going to talk about what you guys are doing to prepare for, well, high school mostly, I mean, all around, whether it’s students or it’s sports. And obviously, since we’re a sports site, we probably want to focus more on that. But activities director versus athletic director. I mean, I guess when I was young and I’m really old, I didn’t have an athletic director, I was a really tiny high school, but I get the athletic director part. How many sports do you guys have?
Adam Riley: We offer twenty five sports in a building of six hundred students on that end of things. We’ve got give or take, depending on any given year, about 16 different activities in addition to those twenty five sports. And our our goal is to still say that we don’t want kids to be on a single track. We want them to be able to participate in as many things as they can or they feel willing to so they can kind of walk out the door with as well-rounded of an experience as they can. That’s that’s our goal here. So name like three or four activities that are not sports, things that would include obviously our fine arts with our band, vocal orchestra, many of the stuff that occurs outside of the school day and the scheduling and management of that stuff, I work pretty extensively with that. We’ve got a speech and drama department where our participation rate is really high within within the district robotics that’s really grown here the last couple of years, a nice little avenue, a niche for a certain segment of our kids, FFA, physics, Olympics, just a large variety of things that we try to to try to have a niche for everybody to be able to feel like they can be involved.
Jon Johnston: How important is our sports to your community?
Adam Riley: I would say they’re important. There’s some unique things through the years. If you look at the corps as a community and the success in a number of different sports that it’s had, as well as the participation rates in a number of our sports, I would say it’s a priority.
Adam Riley: We’ve got a small liberal arts college Luther college here in town as well. So there’s some things that that value within the community, that piggyback off that. And we’ve got some programs through the years that have had a tremendous amount of success when you when you really look at it. So I think people value it. I still feel good about this community is is at a core value. Winning is not placed any higher than making sure we give kids quality experiences. That’s kind of a major goal. And then the cat, the competition takes care of itself.
Jon Johnston: So what worries you most about actually having sports this fall, because Iowa is a state where football hasn’t moved to spring, we’ll talk about that again a little bit. But I mean, what worries you the most?
Adam Riley: A lot, but, you know, it’s like sometimes anything else, you know, I guess to take a step back from a management standpoint, we we coined the phrase and it’s been used by several of my colleagues and some other stuff. We’re kind of building the plane as we fly it, which is a challenging thing, but also challenging from a safety standpoint, as well as just a general logistics standpoint. So, you know. Baseball and softball, we were able to have baseball and softball this summer was very successful by and large for us because outdoor sport, we know that the data that we have from a statewide standpoint means we didn’t have any covid infection that occurred within teams and or from team to team. We know all the infections that shut down teams were exposures that occurred outside of the baseball softball setting based off of the data that’s been able to be collected. So we know for our outdoor stuff we feel pretty comfortable and safe. I will say making the transition with high school students back into indoor settings and needing to use locker rooms.
Adam Riley: That’s probably the area that that worries me the most. And then when we do have an exposure going back and doing contact tracing so we know who do we have to pull for for quarantine and who do we not have to pull? And then what impact does that have on the flow of a season which which is is is pretty tricky. Pretty challenging.
Jon Johnston: I’ve read off your your titles, your job responsibilities, they sound amazing as they are. Does the contact tracing all this stuff? This sounds like it adds a massive burden or a massive overhead on top of what you’re already doing.
Adam Riley: I wouldn’t lie.
Adam Riley: That’s very true. I think that’s a very fair and true statement. You know, obviously, the covid stuff is really turned into a political issue and in different states and different things with guidance. I think it’s how it’s managed is is impacted by that. We get a lot of guidance from our Department of Public Health and then we work with our local county public health administrators for these contact tracing and how we try to implement and are our political leaders within our state have very much wanted to narrow it down. So there’s some local control, which I think there’s merits in that in some instances and other instances, maybe not as much, because then it puts a lot of pressure on the local administrator to start making a certain amount of decisions that aren’t set in policy and trying to go down that road to set policy that doesn’t tie hands while also allows logic. Knowing each case and situation can be different is is definitely a tricky art form of our work.
Jon Johnston: So right now, you’re moving ahead with sports and activities and all these things in the fall. As normal schedule.
Adam Riley: Yep. And all of our surrounding schools are I wouldn’t say that it’s normal the when it comes to football, typically in the state of Iowa, we have a nine game schedule. And the decision was made a couple of weeks ago just through some different options that were down to a seven game schedule. With that and the adjustment to the seventh game schedule was to put things in place. There’s only 16 qualifiers allowed in our playoff system or that qualify. But by narrowing it down to seven, it would allow everybody to go ahead and qualify with that concern of what happens with our playoff qualification system. If we’re midseason and the team gets shut down for a week or 14 days like our policy currently says, what risk does that put on some of the decision making for administrators as well as everything else? Now, if you all of a sudden had your team get shut down or significant quarantine’s at the wrong time as far as the end of the year, we face that locally in our baseball side of things.
Adam Riley: It can it can make things interesting in the end, though, so.
Jon Johnston: Twenty five sports and all these activities, do you have separate plans for each of them? I mean, like if you have football, it’s certainly a different sport than soccer, volleyball or whatever else you might have in the fall.
Adam Riley: Yeah, it’s kind of like an onion. There’s different layers to it. And to say that everything in each sport encompasses itself in terms of as two of the same, definitely that’s the new challenge that we’re working in with the fall baseball, softball, two very different two very similar things. So procedurally, we’re able to put a lot of the same things in place. But the needs of a volleyball program versus a cross country program, one being entirely indoors and one being entirely outdoors, are two different elements with that. So you have that first layer of the actual team management and what you’re trying to do for mitigation within those different teams. And then we’ve got some things started and we feel like we’re in a pretty good place with that. Then there’s the competition side as far as how do we manage contests and what sort of strategies and mitigation do we need to put in from there? Just everything from transportation to exposure of the actual kids to each other, the wearing a mask, sanitization, all the other stuff. And then when you do have the competitions, that third layer is adding what and how do we deal with spectators? And that’s that’s going to be a really tricky area for us as well.
Adam Riley: And if I go back to the competition, we’ve got officials that we’ve got to take care of as well. So it’s a we’re in the process of continuing to develop. There’s a lot of time put into it, trying to work with our conference, trying to work with state wide to see what we can do to get on the same page. It becomes even more complex when maybe within different schools within our league have some different expectations, even as they return to their plans for the learning and then everything else that comes with that. So it’s a. It’s tricky, to say the least. There’s a lot of sleepless nights trying to scratch your head to say how can we figure this out to be able to get some people on the same page, respect everybody’s wants and needs and give most importantly, give the kids an opportunity to do something. They want to compete. They want to be able to participate and play. It might look differently, but at least they’re getting an opportunity to do that.
Jon Johnston: Well, you do obviously talk to kids. I mean, what do they think about all of this? I think that it varies widely, but, you know, you probably get a general feel of your population that you’re dealing with.
Adam Riley: Yeah, our kids, we’ve got great kids. And by and large, they want to be respectful of whatever the adults ask them to do.
Adam Riley: But a lot of it what I run into is, you know, 16 year old kids pay closer to attention what their other 16 year old peers are doing in their decision making process is sometimes more so than what they’re paying attention to in the news or whatever their social media feeds are or whatever sometimes the adults are asking them to do. So there’s all these influences and they’re trying to figure out who they are. And I think that’s probably impacted that a little bit. It’s like anything else with a with a young adult, it gets real when it starts to affect them. And I would say from the summer months when it started to affect individual teens, where there’s an exposure, where somebody, a teammate goes into quarantine and then there’s that fear like, oh, my gosh, was I exposed or was I not exposed? That’s when they start taking things probably a little bit more seriously. Otherwise, it’s probably that usual thing in an educational setting where we’re trying to motivate kids to do what the adults are asking them to do and really cooperate with that. Everything from just general sanitization. You know, it’s hard to compete and say, hey, we’re going to be perfect with physical distancing and say, hey, somebody just made a great play. I’m going to give you a high five. I can’t. Well, naturally, at times it’s going to happen on that end of things, but then making sure that we’re still sanitizing and doing some things with that.
Jon Johnston: You know, that kid you got to always look at and you go, you know, if that kid ever grows up, matures, he’s loud, he’s obnoxious. He won’t follow the rules. He constantly crosses the line. He’s a horrible kid right now, but someday maybe he’ll straighten out and get going. That was me.
Adam Riley: I define those people as their great people. Great, great students. There’s parts on order there. We just got to help them get to the right spot where they’re willing to let us help install the parts. So.
Jon Johnston: Well, my wife would say I don’t know if I’ve ever figured it out yet, but I can tell you without hesitation that if I didn’t have football to play in the fall when I grew up, I probably would have been committing crimes. I mean, I wouldn’t have murdered anybody, but I definitely would have been involved in probably underage drinking. I probably shouldn’t go into the rest of the these, but you know what I mean. If we don’t if the kids if kids don’t have sports, they’re going to get involved in other things that are probably not as, let’s say, healthy.
Adam Riley: You know, it’s that balancing act of we work really hard to make sure that, ah, we try to sell the message both directly and probably more even more indirectly, as if all you do is define yourself by the sport that you participate in or those things that you invest your time, then we probably failed you. So we don’t we want them to be well rounded and well balanced in terms of knowing that they’re more than just a football player and help them through that process. That’s a guiding mission. But with that said, from the adult standpoint, we don’t get into this business to be able to meet with kids on Zoom and talk about football. We get into this business to be able to actually work with them, help them guide them along, help them figure out who they are over a period of time and everything else with that. And part of that helping is, is we know I mean, we all go back to our experiences when we were younger and try to pick out those kids that are the ones that it’s like, yeah, we find a way to connect with them and see what we can do.
Adam Riley: And I will say the months when we were shut down and a lot of different ways with late March and into April and May. And I talk with fellow parents and I talk with our our students and they’re crawling up the walls. They want to be able to do something. So I think in getting back to baseball, softball, when that came, when that happened and occurred, we had some kids that were totally in a totally different stage of humility in terms of appreciating their opportunities. Now, that waned and wavered at the end. But I do think we still have to sell that over a period of time to kids. And this is a real opportunity that you have and you don’t know when it’s going to get taken away. So hopefully there’s some gratitude on their part and everything else. And it does. It makes a difference to be able to work. We’re trying to make a difference for those kids and they may not realize it now, but everybody does know over a period of time we can do that. And if we have something going on, albeit not the same, we can we can hopefully make a difference.
Jon Johnston: The other thing about high school is that you don’t get to do your junior year over really. You know, this isn’t college where they can kind of go, wow, you can have an extra year eligibility. You’re really your life is kind of moving on at the pace on a yearly pace, whether you want it to or not. So it’s a lot of that taken into account.
Adam Riley: Yeah, it is on that.
Adam Riley: And things are not like I said, they’re 16 years old and they’re thinking about how the world revolves a little bit more around them as opposed to be more outward in their thinking on that and things. But there’s certainly a level of appreciation for our seniors last year. And you even look at the college level. I have a nephews Division three track athlete. He’s at the National Indoor Meet doing their work out the day before the national indoor meet. And then all of a sudden the meet canceled. Absolutely devastating for him. He was fearful that that was the last time that he was ever going to run again and they were given a second chance. But in the high school setting, that’s not going to happen on that anything. So I really feel for a number of those kids. But it still comes back to if we’ve done good work with with our students and our student athletes, they realize that they’re far more than just an athlete. There’s other things that they’re going to have to be prepared to be able to offer in the world over a period of time. And hopefully that athletic experience will enhance what they can go on to be able to do in future settings.
Jon Johnston: So parents, you obviously have to deal with parents. In my real life, I’m an IT consultant and I have worked with K-12 schools all over the nation of varying sizes that parents can be the most wonderful people in the world. And then what are the parents think about all of this? And I hate to be unfair to you, but I mean, how do you handle the ones that are... I have relatives of mine that are completely freaking out about this. Then I have other relatives that are like it’s a hoax, you know what I mean? All this stuff. How do you manage that wide disparity between attitudes toward this?
Adam Riley: Yeah, it still comes back to that, I guess the grounding piece for everything to be centrally element of people where we can be on the same page and agree is our kids get an opportunity to do something.
Adam Riley: There are certain things we can control. There’s certain things that we’re not going to be able to control. So let’s find a way to to be able to focus on those things that we can control and be willing to keep everybody safe and healthy, knowing that not everybody is going to have the same view on a number of different things. You know, I still try to come back to scientific facts and some other stuff based off of what I know. But then I also try there’s a there’s a psychological and a social component to all this, that it’s like, how can we work? And I would say by and large and the parents that we’ve worked with and I’ve been able to work with as it relates to covid, they’re extremely excited and happy that their kids have an opportunity to be able to participate in our physical distancing, social distancing guidelines when it comes to events for the summer.
Adam Riley: We didn’t have to micromanage a lot of people. There was a lot of people at our events because they wanted to get out of the house and see and do something real on that end of things, which is awesome to be able to see.
Adam Riley: So as a result, yeah, were everybody’s chairs six feet apart from each other on our baseball and softball games are being played? Absolutely not. But we’re people respectful of each other’s space and trying to be able to do it and knowing and understanding they were at these events to support the kids. That was actually far better because we didn’t have a lot of sportsmanship issues and at least for our district when it comes to that, because I think people are just happy to get out of the house and go see the kids do something. You know, the parents who are really invested and have put a lot of time, whether it be the club scene or whatever, for their kids, it’s a different thing. But obviously, those those parents were very much on fear of not being able to have a season. So I know I think they see what happens and some of the other states and they’re like, well, at least we’re doing something. So we need to be respectful of that as we’re going along knowing it might not be as ideal as what we we think it should be.
Jon Johnston: Have you talked to any of your counterparts in other states where they have canceled fall Sports.
Adam Riley: A little bit?
Adam Riley: So we work we’re close to Minnesota and Wisconsin borders. So in the fall here, we’ve had a few different changes. Obviously, Minnesota decided with no volleyball or football, Wisconsin actually delayed the start of their season. So we actually have some contests with those schools. So all of this is kind of happening pretty fast. So we’ve done the initial logistics, but we haven’t talked about the specifics with them.
Adam Riley: I have I have a nephew who lives in Illinois and knows that his football season isn’t going to happen. And that’s he’s still young, so it’s still OK. But there’s just a little bit of disappointment when it comes to some of that. You know, so to talk to the colleagues specifically, it’s it’s all happening so fast. We haven’t necessarily done that as much. But I’m sure there will be plenty of time to debrief your time.
Jon Johnston: It’s my understanding that since Iowa hasn’t moved their football season, that there are high profile athletes from other states that are moving to Iowa so they can play football, I mean, can you comment on that? Have you guys seen any of that? Any inquiries, anything?
Adam Riley: Now, when you’re up in the corner and you’re not quite as high profile as maybe what the Des Moines metro, some of the Des Moines metro area schools are, you don’t see that or, you know, some of the larger metro areas that are there closer to the borders.
Adam Riley: We haven’t seen as much. I honestly, we haven’t seen any in our area. But I know it’s it’s it’s for lack of a better way to put it, some fears of the Wild, Wild West and some of our larger metro schools and and this this vacuum that’s occurring with people contacting them. And I you know, I’m all for kids, but I also know that I serve the kids of the district that I work for. And I guess that’s it’s a it’s a tough, tough deal when it comes to it, because they think sometimes people forget all of a sudden the excitement on the front side of that, kids moving in. But there’s also a kid in that district who potentially could lose the playing time and that they’ve really invested nothing but trying to be able to be supportive of a team side of things. So there’s lots of messages that kind of get to a wild and crazy when it comes to that.
Adam Riley: And it’s like, yeah, it’s just a tough, tough situation when it comes to that.
Jon Johnston: Ok, we covered kids, we covered parents. Teachers and coaches, how are they doing?
Adam Riley: Doing pretty well, kind of similar to what you would see in the spectrum of the parents. We do have opposite ends of the spectrum and far as where some of the views are and, you know, being the leader, when it comes time to say, well, where’s our middle ground and developing some of that, we’re in the process of working through that to try to be able to be reasonable and and safe. At the same time, we do have some teachers that are extremely nervous about coming back to school. We we have I, I know we have one coach who is not going to coach football this fall because he’s got a young daughter who’s very high risk. So it has to make that decision, albeit a very difficult one in the best interest. So similar to what you might see at the professional level, we see if you add all those different things and you hopefully have supportive conversations with that, we’ve got some that think there’s no way we should be back in school and we have some that think that we should. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have all of our kids in the building and everything should be just like normal. So how do we find a nice balance to still, at the end of the day, do what our mission is to to work with kids and try to do the best we can in person and help them grow and learn some things along the way.
Jon Johnston: When you when you look at the media and a lot of the coverage has been around sports, you deal with activities that are not sports. It’s almost like everybody is worried about, in my other podcasts, I have brought up the fact that everybody’s like, oh, my God, we can’t have a college football season. The college football players will be at risk. Nobody ever talks about the English majors. Nobody gives a damn about the English majors. In your case, you have kids that are in drama. I wish I would have done that in high school, but I didn’t have any guts. I’d taken drama out for the rest of my life. You know, I’m dramatic all the time now, but or singing chorus or band or those things. Does it bother you that the focus is, oh, my God, we can’t have sports, but at the same time, nobody cares about the English majors.
Adam Riley: You know, you get you get used to it. Media is a market and sometimes people tend to forget that and they’ve got to go with where or where things sell and where they can get their advertising. And we respect that from a business standpoint. You know, unique for me thing. For me, I was a vocalist in college. I sang when I was in college. I did plenty of athletic experiences and all the other stuff and get coaching while I was in college and other stuff. So, you know, you hope the student level, they feel like, what can I get out of it?
Adam Riley: And, yeah, there’s there’s that other piece that’s not covered by the media where there’s all kinds of guidance for our music association and National Federation of High Schools that comes out with what are we going do with marching band, what’s the guidance? And as they do studies as relates to how do we sing without being able to spread, because obviously the air movement that’s going to happen and occur.
Adam Riley: So there’s all of that layer that’s going on at the same time. And I mean, I appreciate you bringing that up because that’s that’s that’s one major part of what we’re trying to do, because we’re still serving the same kids when it comes time to be able to be prepared to help them safely do what what they want to be able to do. And we’re trying to do this all at the same time. You know, from from that standpoint, too, I you know, I was in an advisory meeting a couple of weeks ago at the state level. And at one point that I kind of got lost, that I wanted to make sure that I made made clear is, you know, for some of the mitigation strategies of practicing in smaller groups or having pads and some other stuff where we’ve got coaches who end up having to do that. But in addition to that, our coaches are going to have to they’re also teachers. That’s their main job. And they’re having to prepare. And our case, we’re going to start the year in a hybrid model where we’ve got partial kids, about 50 percent of our kids in the building each day, and then they rotate in terms of what we call red and blue days based off our school colors. But they’re having to teach in a completely different way than they’ve ever taught before. So it’s like it’s like they’re going back to their first year of teaching. So they’re doing that while also trying to manage these activities programs.
Adam Riley: And then at the same token, they’re splitting and doing two and three practices at the same time, the amount of stress that it puts on them, that’s that’s a part that really concerns me as we go through, because in the parents eyes, because we compete and participate once the season gets going and we have no cases in our mitigation strategies, they’re working. They just think it should be just like normal. And sometimes in their eyes, more is is just that more will lead to more success, or sometimes it’s about efficiency and less being more in relation to how much we do and how we try to manage different programs. And the teaching has to be the priority. You know, college athletics, the way it’s grown, it’s awesome. But I always comes back. It’s a discussion my wife and I have in our household is and people tend to forget that they get the recognition and the notoriety of professional athletes, but they’re still student athletes. And that can’t be lost in this whole mission when it comes time to be able to do something so that that part that’s a tricky part of our world. And as we get into that, these opportunities to be able to compete, the educational component is the most important part of the day. But the most talked about at times is the sports side of things. And and how do we get people back to realize that these kids, our students and these these these coaches, most of them are teaching at the same time?
Jon Johnston: There are Nebraska fans who are shocked to find out that there’s an actual university attached to the football team. They go, what the hell is that all about?
Adam Riley: I thought that was that was where the N stands for knowledge?
Jon Johnston: Get those shots in!
Adam Riley: Now, my boss is a diehard Nebraska fan. It’s great. I we get along really well. Total respect for him, OK.
Jon Johnston: The structure of decision making, we’re going to talk about decision making, and this is just surprising you with this, who ultimately makes the decisions of whether or not a football game will continue or a sport will continue? Is it your high school level, your confidence level, the state level? Is it all of them together in unison?
Adam Riley: Yeah, as of right now, the way it lays out and it’s pretty similar to what we did for baseball softball, it’s going to be at the district level and the administration of the district, which is going to be assigned on that end of things and working with our superintendent to keep him informed and obviously our principal to work with public health, our local public health administrators, and say, what’s the scenario, what’s happening and occurring? There’s a matrix that we’re kind of supposed to follow. And they’ve they’ve made some adjustments to that matrix to be able to lead to the decision making. So let’s say we have in the summer it was set where if we had one positive case on our team on that end of things, the whole team would be shut down for 14 days. That led to some challenges in terms of consistencies within the state as far as what’s defined is the whole team as the whole team, like the whole in our case, eight through 12 for baseball and softball, or is it just the varsity group because they threw eighth and ninth graders are off practicing on their own. There’s no similar exposure to them as far as what happens and occurs. So they’re making some adjustments. We haven’t seen that yet to hopefully kind of clean some of that up. And meanwhile, while when that happens, that’s a you have a test out. You’ve put a kid in the current team because they’re directly exposed and they have a test. Well, that’s still going to take forty eight to seventy two and sometimes even longer to get those tests back, depending on how wide our how bogged down the statewide system is. So you’ve kind of got to hang in the balance if it’s just one case and one exposure and there hasn’t been very much around those kids.
Adam Riley: We I work with public health administrator to make some determinations of, OK, who do we quarantine and who do we not while we still continue to practice and compete? So so that’s part of it. And then depending on how many potential direct exposures you have will lead to saying, all right, we’re not going to go compete against this team at this point in time or yet. We’re perfectly safe. We’re in OK shape. We can still go compete because our exposure is minimal. We don’t have anybody, any symptoms, everything else that comes with that. So it’s a it’s a matrix that’s followed. It’s not necessarily a black and white element to be able to have those conversations. And it’s I like to be extremely transparent with with parents and kids. And it doesn’t always allow you to be as transparent as you like when it comes to that, because you have some of the parents, like I if I walk down or even people in the community, if I just saw this person yesterday and I heard that they were they just tested positive, do I need to get tested for covid? And it’s like, well, there’s exposure rates of what the CDC says and and how do you kind of mitigate in those conversations you can’t run from them because you’ve got to help people. As far as how your decision making issues, I guess the the sounding thing that I’ve always come back to with parents and in kids is I would never ask you to do something that I wouldn’t feel safe doing myself.
Adam Riley: And if we as coaches and other people operate under, that hopefully will be in a good place in the long run to keep people safe.
Jon Johnston: Ok, we’re going to stick with the decision making. You are a decision maker.
Adam Riley: Sure.
Jon Johnston: I just took my son to work earlier. He’s an applied math major at the University of Minnesota because he’s a rotten son and didn’t pick Nebraska. Yeah, he has fun. Whenever the Gophers beat us in any athletic competition. It occurred to me while driving him, if you go out on social media, if you have conversations with your neighbors, your relatives or anybody, we’re beating our decision makers to death.
The vast majority of us as humans are not decision makers. But yet we’re hindsighting all of this to death as if there is a right way or a wrong way to do all of this stuff. And there’s always a right way to do it after, after it’s passed by. Yeah, I mean. I guess I look at this, and I look at my own kids, I have three kids, they’re all adults, and I look at them and go, if we’re going to beat our decision makers this badly, why would anybody ever want to be in that position ever?
Adam Riley: I we have those moments. There’s there’s no doubt about it, you know, with with leadership that probably the biggest thing is being ready and willing. If you’re going to get in a leadership position, you’d better be willing to accept some of the responsibility, find ways to take input, hear the noise on the outside and take that information and say, yep, and everything else. And you don’t ever give a take a victory lap when you’re right on that end. The things it just doesn’t work that way. But you do have to look somebody in the eye and say, these are these are the decision points. They are these data points or whatever it made to make this decision. And I didn’t have this piece of information or not. You don’t want to make excuses or you just flat out said I was wrong and if I had it to do over again, these are the kind of things that we’d be able to decipher and do different and be transparent as you possibly can in the decision making process with it myself. Sometimes I’m maybe a little bit more of a highway gambler. I don’t want to put everything in a bubble when it comes to that. But I also want people to be safe. And as a result, you just you try to gather the right amount of information and get other people on board with getting their information from it so you can make something that sound and everybody can support at the same time.
Adam Riley: Sometimes you just got to flat out make a decision knowing that people they’re not going to like it. So it’s it’s tough. And this whole the covid thing, I tell you, you know, you’re in the middle of a pandemic. Sometimes I sarcastically say it’s a good thing we’re starting to get sports back. So there’s something other than the news or the social media for people to be able to gather information because we’re humans, we want to interact. That’s what’s going to happen. And what topics and things are we going to be able to get into? It certainly helps to have some other things out there for for humans to be able to see and talk about with that. But, yeah, you know, you talk about the decision makers getting getting browbeat a little bit at times. Sometimes maybe it’s OK to be question, to surround yourself with people with some different opinions. That’s a great thing to be able to happen so you can do what’s best in the long run. But that whole understanding of the human element is nobody’s perfect. It does get tough on this and it’s going to continue for a period of time as well.
Jon Johnston: This is, again, speculation. What do you see, and you’re not a virologist, you’re not an epidemiologist. When do you see this ending? Do you ever see an ending?
Adam Riley: Yeah, you don’t you don’t know....
Adam Riley: There’s a number of things you know, I’ve had a number of conversations, obviously in the last six months that I’ve been really with some great depth and some other stuff. And that’s probably what makes it the hardest is that you don’t know where the end is in sight and then you’re trying to make decisions knowing where what is the end game. You know, we’ve had some decisions that have had to happen and occur.
Adam Riley: I know, relating to our baseball softball, it’s like, do we play today or do we not play today based off the fact that we’ve got five kids that were potentially exposed on that in the things? And it’s like, well, what’s the end game? What is then games that just played this one game? Well, let’s go play it. Or is the end game to say make sure that we put ourselves in position so we can still play a few more games as we finish out the season. If it’s a that when you don’t know what the end game is, which is kind of where we’re at in this pandemic, it’s a different deal. You know, if you look at the collegiate level, there’s a huge financial piece that’s involved in this. When you look at just college football and put it under that microscope. So that’s that’s a big piece that’s going to guide some of their decisions and the risk taking that they’re going to take for us. We’re just dealing with high school student athletes, but we’re also dealing with the psychology of a large group of kids and their development and their growth as human beings. So there’s value in terms of what we’re trying to be able to do. It’s just how do we do it safely?
Adam Riley: So, yeah, it there’s trying to find the guiding principles for where do we want to be at the end at this point in time is is really tough and it’s it’s going to be that way for a while, unfortunately.
Jon Johnston: Yeah, I work in IT, as I mentioned, I think before we started, but I mean, normally we have a business continuity plan, right? Those plans are generally, if you’re building gets hit by a tornado or it gets burned down or something happens, you know, or Katrina in New Orleans. I worked in New Orleans around the time of Katrina and I worked with a school district, actually, Jefferson Parish. Most of those cases, they’re going to rebuild the building and they’re going to move to a different location. There is a definite OK, here’s the plan. And then it ends when everybody moves back in and goes back to work. And not only is there no plan for any of this because nobody’s ever been really through it. And that’s the part that’s, I think, frustrating for me. When I look at people complaining about all the decisions being made is there’s no plan.
Adam Riley: They’re making this up as we go of the building, as we the building, the plane as we fly. It is, I think is one analogy. The other one probably comes from a military side of things. Our superintendent, actually, the ADA and the previous district that he worked with as a military academy, grad Army Military Academy grant and at West Point. And he often talks about in my my brother’s a pilot in the Navy. So I see it as like when you when you plan you, the only guarantee is, is that the plan that you initially put together will not be the plan. It’s going to have to be able to adjust and pivot and some other stuff. And that’s hard for media and the general world to say, well, do these people not plan? Well, no, they did the circumstances then the dynamics change. So what is a great plan? Well, that’s kind of an open ended question because you don’t know what’s out in front of you. You can try to have an idea with that. And this really challenges a lot of that when it comes to it. And then trying to get humans to be able to get on board and build some transformational decision making is, you know, I don’t want to call it short to impossible, but it certainly takes a lot more time than what the immediacy of our society wants.
Adam Riley: As far as I want an answer, I want it black and white. I want to know what I’m going to do and what I’m not going to do. And then if I don’t like it, how do I properly express my dissent with that while still being respectful? And that’s that’s that’s hard right now in a pandemic plan. As you know, when we have spectators come to a competition, that’s going to be our next thing as far as masks, if we’re indoors. And that will be a contentious issue that totally. Breaks away from what our core issue is, we just want kids to have an opportunity to play volleyball and do so safely, and this is a way that we have to be able to consider that when it comes time to do it. But boy, immediately will go just completely to the mask, mask, mask. It’s like, well, wait a minute, what’s the end game? What’s what are we actually back here to actually do? Well, just to give an opportunity for kids to be able to play some volleyball and watch them play.
Jon Johnston: And that that is kind of you know what, that’s a good ending because it is kind of it’s silly that we’ve gotten so explosive about a mask, you know, you’d think you’d get people would have gone ballistic if they were, like, locked in their homes by law or something. But no, it’s just put on a face covering. And we’re all insane people all of a sudden.
Adam Riley: Yeah. I mean, it’s it’s an inconvenience. Sure it is. Absolutely. Is it something that people want to make sure that all of a sudden people are going to be required to wear masks. Two years after the pandemic is over or are deemed over, no vaccine exists as well? No, I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. But if it if it makes things safer to make sure those of us who are in an age group that maybe don’t have the health risks, but we still have a responsibility to take care of others to make sure that they don’t have those health risks. I think it’s an important discussion to have. But yet again, it gets contentious sometimes because where is the end game? When are we going to when are we going to not have to continue to wear or need to be able to continue to wear those masks? That’s a that’s a really scary thought process for some people when it comes down to it.
Jon Johnston: So it is like, well, you know, it was a good conversation. I appreciate you taking the time. I think it’s important.
Jon Johnston: We’re probably not going to get massive numbers of people to listen to this because they really want to listen to sports stuff. I think it’s important that people understand what people are going through. And, you know, I’ve interviewed an economist, I’ve interviewed a lawyer, and now a high school activity director, associate principal, window washer or counselor,
Adam Riley: Whatever needs to be done. I’m not a Nebraska football fan, but I have the total respect for that Nebraska football. It’s OK. I appreciate the opportunity to be on a little CornNation.com fun when it comes to that. With that, I as a football coach, an old football coach, I think the world, the time I was born and what that era of Nebraska football look like, I was absolutely outstanding. So I know there’s a lot of people out there that have a lot to be proud of with that.
Jon Johnston: Ok, this has been Jon’s Post Life crisis, thank you all for listening. Go Big Red. This is where you say your mascot.
Adam Riley: Where do I start? Well, I don’t want to necessarily say go hawks. It’s just kind of one branch of the Hawkeyes. I’ll say, go Panthers.
Jon Johnston: You’re Decorah Panthers?
Adam Riley: Oh, no, Vikings. Sorry, I thought it was the other go like you do better at pointing that out.
Jon Johnston: Ok, all right.