I’m not here to discuss Dan Guerrero and the job he’s done so far. I am here to report the UCLA news to the Bruin community.
However, when the notification popped up that UCLA Director of Athletics Dan Guerrero issued a message to the Bruin community, I gave pause at how to bring that to the table here. I am choosing the journalistic approach but am encouraging you all to give your honest thoughts and feelings about Guerrero’s message about the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has forced the shut down of essentially everything across the country and world, from work to sports and all in between.
While some are fighting to make ends meet, others are fighting to bring the country’s economy back to life. Guerrero issued the following message:
Dear Bruin Family,
I hope that this finds you and your loved ones healthy and safe, and adjusting to the “new normal” in our world. While the past two weeks have been incredibly trying in so many ways, I know they have also provided many of us with a renewed sense of clarity about what matters most. I have the privilege of being on daily calls with the brilliant team that leads our world-class university, and I want to applaud the leadership of Chancellor Gene Block and all of UCLA’s vice chancellors. Their sincere commitment to our UCLA community and the community at large has never been more apparent.
All of us within the UCLA Athletics Department share in the incredible disappointment of our coaches and student-athletes over the early and abrupt end to so many seasons, and I know you do, as well. Amidst this disappointment, it has been gratifying to see us come together to recognize that our collective sacrifices are for the greater good. The health and safety of the larger community must be our top priority, and it is our responsibility to do everything in our power to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Last week, both Los Angeles County and the State of California implemented “Safer at Home” measures for the next few weeks, urging all but “essential” workers to stay home as much as possible. Obviously, we will do our part and heed this order; all practices and athletically-related team activities will remain suspended for at least as long as these measures are in place. Our weight rooms also will remain closed, though limited access to the Acosta training room is available on an appointment-only basis for student-athletes who are rehabbing or receiving medical treatment.
With all that has happened – with the cancellation of all competitions and championships for the remainder of the academic year by both the Pac-12 Conference and the NCAA, as well as the extension of remote learning through the duration of spring quarter by campus leadership – our staff has been working hard to adjust to these very unique circumstances and navigate the unprecedented path ahead. I want to take this opportunity to recognize the efforts and leadership of those staff members throughout the department who have jumped into action and leaned into solutions-mode without hesitation.
Remote instruction for spring quarter begins on Monday, March 30. Student-athletes have the option to remain on campus or in their off-campus housing, or to remain at home. Students are encouraged to return to UCLA for the spring quarter only if it is the safest place for them to live during the COVID-19 pandemic. Otherwise, they are strongly encouraged to remain at their permanent residence. We recognize that each student-athlete and his or her family will make that determination individually. Whether they begin the quarter in Westwood or remotely, we are committed to adapting all aspects of student-athlete support and development to help them succeed in every area.
We are mobilizing technological resources and support for those who need it, while the academic and student services staff is implementing plans for virtual academic advising and tutoring to facilitate academic success under these new circumstances. Likewise, the athletic performance staff will be offering training kits to student-athletes, so they can continue to train, whether they have access to equipment or not. In addition, our partners at Under Armour have generously donated year-long subscriptions to the MyFitnessPal app for every student-athlete. I would be remiss if I did not recognize the generous donors who have stepped up, once again, when called upon to support our student-athletes in a time of need. It is thanks to them that we are able to provide the resources needed for remote learning and training. Our new normal may be challenging and uncertain, but it has once again allowed for the resiliency and adaptability of the Bruin community to shine through.
During uncertain times, especially in times of isolation, we must never forget about the importance of mental health. Formally, UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) remains operational and engaged with the student population. We are also working with Headspace to provide every student-athlete with a new, year-long subscription to the meditation app. We are grateful to the Headspace team for their partnership, once again. Informally, we recognize the crucial roles that community and human connection play in providing comfort during turbulent times. To that end, we have required coaches and staff to stay in contact with their colleagues and student-athletes via regular conference calls, video chats or other methods. In addition, we have formed internal working groups to focus on the areas of health and wellness, professional development and community outreach, which will offer virtual education and benefit both staff and student-athletes.
The NCAA is addressing a number of complicated issues at this time. The Pac-12 Conference remains in daily contact with the NCAA and leaders from member schools as we collectively seek answers and plan for what may lie ahead. Athletics also continues to work closely with UCLA leadership in Murphy Hall, which is making daily decisions with the best interest of the entire campus community in mind.
In 18 years in this position, I have seen us come together through many challenges, but I have never been prouder to be a Bruin. The way our student-athletes have responded to all of this is a testament to their character and an encouraging glimpse into their future as leaders. I am grateful to work with coaches and staff who continue to put our student-athletes and their health, safety and success above all else.
The Bruin family is strong, and the future is bright. We thank you for your continued support and look forward to seeing all of you soon. Until then, stay healthy and safe.
Alice & Nahum Lainer Family Director of Athletics
As nice and as pleasant as the kind words are throughout, my thought on this matter is to stay neutral and before elaborating more, I’d rather hear it from you.
So, have at it, folks.