Ryan Day woke up to the sound of his phone chirping, but knew instantly that it was too dark outside for it to be the alarm he set for 6:30. He let it ring, groaning in regret at the late-night film session he should've stopped short well before midnight.
Wiping his eyes as he knew sleep wouldn't come again, Day grabbed his phone to see who called. He was unsurprised to see six text messages from his new defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs, and of course, the call from him that broke his sleep.
4:43 AM: YOU STILL SLEEPING?
4:43 AM: HAVE A FEW IDEAS I WANT TO SWING YOUR WAY!
4:46 AM: THERE'S ABSOLUTELY NOTHING BETTER THAN THAT FIRST RED BULL OF THE DAY!
4:47 AM: #REDBULLGIVESMEWINGSANDAWESOMEIDEAS
5:16 AM: IF I COULD BE ANY ANIMAL FOR A DAY I'D BE A WASP! JUST FLYIN' AROUND BEIN' AWESOME!
5:32 AM: I'M GIVING YOU FIVE MORE MINUTES BEFORE I CALL!
Day groggily got out of bed at 5:37 and headed to the kitchen for some coffee. He shot Coombs a message that they'd talk on their afternoon zoom call and then forwarded another article he found about boundaries in the workplace.
After a quick breakfast, Day threw on some running shorts and a sweater and popped out for a two-mile jog. He always started his day this way, it was a good tone-setter and got the body and mind going. Every coach has their own way of kicking things off in the morning. Urban Meyer liked to go down to the park and instigate a conflict so he could watch two people fist fight. Larry Johnson has these 100-pound bags of sand that he likes to throw at a wall. He heard Jim Harbaugh eats a pint of orange sherbet every morning with his bare hands.
Day circled back to his house, showered and got dressed for the day. His morning consisted of various conference calls with position groups and coaches, calls with recruits and the occasional break to check in with his family. At noon every day, he watched Ohio State's final drive against Clemson for motivation.
Lunch that day was grilled chicken and roasted vegetables. His wife handled the roasting while he did the grilling. He was thankful that the weather finally turned so he could get on his back deck to cook.
Day's call with Coombs was scheduled for 1:00 every day. After he finished lunch he got his white board ready and started putting some concepts together for them to discuss.
He was drawing up plays when he heard the banging on his window.
Startled, Day turned to see Coombs standing in his back yard, carrying his wife Holly on his back.
"Kerry," he exclaimed. "What the hell are you doing here?" Day went to the window and pulled it open.
"Hey coach," Coombs shouted. "Needed a quick workout and thought, what better way to work up a sweat than an afternoon run! Some people amp things up by wearing weighted vests or backpacks with bags of flour in them or whatever, but I figured, why waste the money when I have a perfectly suitable wife who could hop on my back? People need to be more resourceful, if you ask me."
"Are you insane?" Day asked. "You live like 10 miles from here."
"It's 14, actually," Coombs responded. "Holly's gonna hop off and throw rocks at me on the way back. You develop a lot of instincts doin' some rock dodgin'. Was thinking about implementing that for fall camp this year."
"Absolutely not," Day said.
"Alright whatever. Holly and I are taking these social distancing measures seriously so we won't come in, but I figured we could do our meeting like this," Coombs said.
Day sighed but agreed, and they went on like that for two and a half hours (two hours longer than the scheduled meeting). When they finished Day felt drained. The early start to the morning and the intense session with Coombs weighed on him, so he told his wife Christina that he was going to lie down for a bit.
He must've been more tired than he realized, because he didn't stir until 6:45. He asked Christina why she let him sleep so long and she shot him that look. Christina worried that he worked too hard and mandated that between 6:00 and 10:00, it was family time.
That evening was a simple one. Thursday's are pizza night in the Day household, and the family settled in and watched the new Jumanji film.
Later that evening when everyone was asleep, Day was deciding whether to follow suit or watch the analyzed film Coombs promised to send earlier. Knowing he was making the same mistake he made the night before, he opted for the latter and went to his computer.
He found the email quickly because Coombs was all-caps all the time. The subject of the email was, "HERE'S THAT FILM WE DISCUSSED EARLIER, CALL ME IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS."
Day opened the email, downloaded the video and began watching. He was confused by what he was seeing until he realized Coombs mistakenly sent go-pro footage from a tough-mudder race he ran last year. He was only 10 seconds in before hearing Coombs yelling at the other racers.
"You cowards better not let this old man beat you. Get your energy up it's time to go!"
Day chuckled and considered it a sign to go to bed. He set an alarm for 6:30 and thought to himself, what are the chances I actually make it to 6:30?
He knew they were slim as he drifted to sleep.