Teambuilding is a crucial but oft-overlooked part of any team sport. When you have to function as a group, it’s important that you have an understanding of what those around you are doing and thinking—and it probably doesn’t hurt if you like them, as well, or at least have some kind of working relationship with them.
That’s why the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to remain steadfast as one of the increasingly few teams who travel to an outside destination for their training camp, rather than hold it at their own facilities, which only maybe four or five teams continue to do in this era.
That might not be possible this year thanks to the coronavirus. Right now, the teambuilding process is being slowed, in fact. The recent draft picks and first-year players just started their rookie minicamp today, but they had to do it virtually. Carlos Davis acknowledged that he hasn’t even spoken yet to his fellow draft classmates.
Still, some veterans on the team have worked to do their part to try to get the young players in the fold and to stay in contact and bond. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has taken the reins in that regard, with second-round wide receiver Chase Claypool telling reporters that he’s been running a group chat to keep in touch.
“Ben has a group chat going on with all of us. He said that as soon as we can get together and kind of learn the offense together”, the rookie said. “That’s about as far as the playbook has gone. Other than that, I’ve just been learning kind of through the resources I’ve been given, like the iPad and stuff like that, and then the rookie minicamp”.
Claypool mentioned that several other veterans have reached out to him since he was drafted as well, including Ryan Switzer, and free agent signing Eric Ebron. “JuJu reached out, Ben reached out, Switzer reached out to me, Ebron did. Those guys have reached out and said if I need anything, just ask. I’ll be sure to do that if something comes up”, he said.
He and the rest of the rookies will be getting broken into the NFL through virtual means for at least the next couple of months, it seems like, though we can only hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel nearer than it may seem.
Here’s to hoping that the Steelers will be in Latrobe in August, but unless or until they get there, this is about the best that they are going to be able to manage, working virtually, and doing whatever they can to stay in touch with one another.