This is the mentality that Chris Foster, the new Assistant Coach of Running Backs for East Carolina University, says he tries to instill in his players. With the unrelenting challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the NFL took a similar approach this season. This year’s Super Bowl Sunday, February 7th, comes this weekend as the entire sports world works to overcome these challenges. The list of those “uncomfortable” challenges: limited crowds, altered travel schedules, expanded player health protocols, and Zoom media availability are just some of the ways that the NFL has made it to Super Bowl LV in Tampa
Coach Foster acquired this mentality from his high school coach back in his playing days. Foster says that those uncomfortable moments, when things are the most uneasy, is when people grow the most. After a playing career that followed in his brother’s footsteps at his local university, playing running back for Gardener-Webb in North Carolina, Foster chose to be a coach. He wanted to help other young men grow both on and off the field just as he did. It should come as no surprise that this year, Coach Foster was on the staff of an NCAA Division 1 football program that played a full schedule of games this past year, a feat shared by only one other team. Along with National Champion Alabama, Foster’s Georgia Southern University embraced “being uncomfortable” by implementing many changes to their normal routine to allow for the 2020-2021 season.
At Georgia Southern, Coach Foster served as associate head coach and running backs coach for the last 5 years. Coach Foster loves the grind of football practices and the preparation. He relishes the connection he builds with his players. However, this normal comradery and the personal connections that a team forms as part of a Division 1 football program were disrupted by social distancing. Foster notes that Georgia Southern head coach Chad Lunsford’s leadership in transitioning their facility to be compliant with the pandemic protocols was key to their program making it through the full season. As part of the modifications, they implemented weekly testing, socially distanced film sessions, zoom calls instead of meetings, and even placed dots six feet apart on the practice fields to help guide their players.
The timing seems to make sense, now, for Foster’s return to his home state. Last week, on February 1st, Foster announced that he had accepted a new position as the Running Backs Coach at East Carolina University. The Pirates can expect him to bring his same signature focus on building resiliency and mental toughness to his new program of players. Like millions of Americans, Foster will be watching the Super Bowl from his (new) home, where he will certainly share an appreciation for “being uncomfortable” with both of the teams playing this year in a unique Super Bowl experience. Whether it’s the Kansas City Chiefs or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this weekend that best embodies Coach Foster’s philosophy, they just might also be the team that raises the Lombardi Trophy as Champions late this Sunday.
Special Thanks to CoachChrisFoster.com
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Coach Chris Foster
Coach Chris Foster, Running Backs Coach for East Carolina University, offers his insight about the game of football through the pandemic.
Job Title: Running Backs Coach