I’m lucky to be a sports fans who can truly appreciate the internet.
Not long ago, newspaper box scores and ESPN highlight packages were the only ways to find information about some sporting events. Now fans and athletes can interact everyday via social media.
I’m old enough to remember watching morning SportsCenter replays with my backpack on — just hoping to catch highlights from the last night’s game before my last-second sprint to the school bus stop. I’m also young enough to interact on NBA Twitter.
Those experiences keep me from getting jealous of today’s youth.
Really the only time I wish I was a current high school student-athlete is when I see how easy it is for Long Beach teammates to interact online. Wilson boys’ soccer coach C.J. Brewer is a Bruins alum, and he feels the same way.
“If we weren’t together you didn’t see each other,” Brewer said of his playing days. “But now with social media and what we’re going through today, you can still see what each other are doing and it’s a motivation factor. It gets everyone off the couch when they see each other doing it.”
By ‘it’ Brewer is referring to the athletic challenges on social media that teams across the nation have been participating in this month during the COVID-19 shutdown. In the challenges, one player does a trick or skill and their teammates respond with a video of them matching that trick or skill. It’s like a virtual game of HORSE without the basketball court.
Some water polo players are trying new ways to catch the ball behind their backs, some basketball players are creating leagues with NERF hoops, and some Wilson soccer players have been juggling toilet paper.
Brewer posted on Instagram last week, “Do you have 75 rolls of toilet paper and nothing to do? Well, let’s think… How many times can you juggle a roll of toilet paper? Send your videos to our Instagram account via direct message! Ask mom first… you don’t want her to hit you with a CHANKLA for wasting TP!”
Do you have 75 rolls of toilet paper and nothing to do? Well, let’s think…. How many times can you juggle a roll of toilet paper? Send you videos to our Instagram account via direct message! Ask mom first…. you don’t want her to hit you with a CHANKLA for wasting TP!
The Bruins responded quickly led by freshman Anthony Khiev, who set the camera low and focused on quick touches before diving to catch the TP with his hand.
“I was excited to do it because I love doing challenges,” Khiev said. “I juggle a lot of objects but I’ve never juggled a roll of toilet paper so it was something new for me. I love trying new things. This was definitely a challenge.”
“He’s really bought into what we’re doing, and he loves the game,” Brewer said of Khiev. “He’s been the one sending us the most videos back of training and doing things multiple times a day from home.”
Brewer got the idea from a Facebook soccer forum that showed a club team starting a TP juggling challenge, and he posted the responses from his team on all of the Wilson boys’ soccer social media platforms.
“Some of the kids had their brothers and sisters film it, so you can hear their voices in the background rooting them on,” Brewer said. “That was cool.”
Even some Wilson alum like current Long Beach City College forward Gustavo Cervantes participated in the TP juggling challenge. He set up his phone across the kitchen and finished the juggle by kicking the toilet paper directly at the camera.
“That just showcased his personalty,” Brewer said. “He has this chip on his shoulder, and I think he planned that whole thing. I smiled when I saw it, because that’s Gustavo.”
10 video: Alumni Gustavo!!!! #toiletpaperchallenge https://t.co/foA5lDRF7s
Cervantes said he the kick at the camera was spur of the moment, but it only took him two attempts to nail it.
“It was fun and cool watching everybody do it,” Cervantes said. “It’s always nice to know that other people are doing the same thing as you.”
All of the local teams have been adjusting on the fly as the world changes every day, and Wilson had rescheduled its boys’ soccer banquet the day before the school shut down.
“As a coach you go through being a cheerleader, tutor, father figure… now it’s switched,” Brewer said. “It’s giving these kids a purpose instead of sitting on their hands. It’s about trying to get away from watching Netflix and playing video games. It’s about staying active.”
Brewer said he’s taking his own advice about staying physically fit while at home.
“Even I’ve been getting out and running and being active in a safe way alone,” Brewer said. “I feel like that’s the only part of my day that clears my head. And if I didn’t do that I’d feel trapped… I feel like for the kids it’s helping their psyche and their ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”