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Mark Briggs on how pandemic impacted Sacramento Republic’s squad in 2020

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Food for thought as coronavirus continues to impact sports.

The 2020 season was unprecedented in sports, with a long shutdown in the spring just as the USL Championship season kicked off, and games for the duration of the season held behind closed doors in most markets, including Sacramento.

While Sacramento Republic FC had a fairly good season under the circumstances, with a strong regular season and playoff berth that led to a good 120 minutes in the postseason, Mark Briggs mentioned that the adversity the team faced behind the scenes that was invisible on game days.

The Sac Republic head coach was a guest on the club’s podcast, “The Breakaway” last week, and shed some light on what the team lost in a very restricted season.

“COVID really affected the culture element, what I spoke about, just the little details,” said Briggs. “Like, the players were never in the dressing room together. The players were never in the locker room on a daily basis. The players never got a chance to interact and be around one another like they normally would. We weren’t able to do gym work or be in the gym. I wasn’t able to do presentations in front of everyone in the locker room. We weren’t able to do as much individual video as we would have liked.

“There were so many things: We had to change the training regime, we had to change how we do certain things. And it kind of became players would just turn up, train, and go home. I think that was the most difficult element for me as a coach, to bring that camaraderie, to bring that togetherness, to bring that group culture and group mentality that you get from being around one another everyday, cracking jokes, making fun of one another, someone wears bad clothes and they come in, just little things that you kind of take for granted but this year you realize how important they were. Because we weren’t able to utilize that,” he added.

It’s an interesting peek behind the curtain. I think looking at the team, you wouldn’t think their chemistry was hurt this season, as they seemed to play as a team more often than not. And it’s hard to quantify the value of “bantz” in the locker room, but as a former player, Briggs seems to value the tone in the squad and that appears to have been completely ripped up in 2020.

It’s a side of the game I haven’t thought much about before, so that was illuminating. You can hear much more from Briggs over on “The Breakaway.”

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