The pandemic’s shutdown of sports has presented an interesting obstacle for Wayne State athletics.
For the football team’s graduate assistant coach Jeremiah Mullinax, who joined the team before fall camp last season, the spring workouts were an opportunity to settle into the position.
“I was thrown in the fire in August and was playing catch-up most of the year, with dual duties of being a graduate assistant and leading the tight ends on short notice,” Mullinax said.
With the cancellation of on-campus training due to the coronavirus outbreak, Mullinax and the coaching staff are making the adjustment to connecting with players virtually.
“I am currently studying special teams and continuing to study the DVSport software to ensure I can help our program be as (good) as possible,” Mullinax said.
Mullinax implemented the use of virtual-communication site Zoom to stay in touch with the tight ends.
“We meet as a unit two times a week to check in personally and make sure they’re staying on task to be ready for the season when we get the okay to return to the field,” he said.
“The team will have to continue to push themselves and remain disciplined in the comfort of their own homes. This off time can be beneficial if used properly.”
Before joining WSU’s coaching staff, Mullinax worked in the insurance industry and had a couple of stints playing indoor football.
As he was shifting away from insurance, a conversation with senior defensive end Terry Sanders while they served a fellowship at the Christian Athletes Camp last year convinced Mullinax to interview for a graduate assistant spot. Mullinax was added to WSU’s staff right before the start of fall camp.
As a former student-athlete himself, Mullinax played at Concordia Ann Arbor and Western Michigan University. He said helping players reach their potential is one of his biggest goals.
“I seek to help them understand that they have no idea how talented they truly are,” Mullinax said. “I push them to get out of their comfort zones and grow. I am a firm believer that one’s physical, mental, financial, spiritual and relationship health are all connected, so I also push them to make goals of each.”
Mullinax said being around the players is what he misses most about not being on campus.
“I love being around the players and investing in those relationships,” he said. “Besides football, I am thankful that my family is healthy and none of us have encountered the virus. I have missed church and it was weird not going over my dad’s house on Easter, but those are small issues in the grand scheme of things.”
Mullinax said head coach Paul Winters keeps the staff up to date on how the upcoming season will take shape.
“As of now, there is no specific date,” Mullinax said.
Mullinax said one aspect of the pandemic he thinks the team will take away from is to not take anything for granted.
“When we get back on the field, I have a strong feeling our players will be juiced up and excited with a fresh perspective not only on playing football, but on life in general,” Mullinax said.
Nicole Werling is a contributing writer for The South End. She can be reached at Nicole.Werling@waybne.edu.