With colleges and universities preparing to start the new school year, new freshmen are heading off to school for the first time and have been forced to get acclimated to not just life away from home, but to what college is like during a global pandemic.
Former Dawson County Tiger and current Eastern Illinois offensive lineman Bryson Broadway has been at school for nearly two months now.
Everywhere he goes, Broadway is required by his team to wear a mask and is getting tested weekly for COVID-19.
“When I got here me and all the new guys wanted to hang out, but we can’t do that as much as we want because of covid,” Broadway said. “That’s tough because we can’t build the relationships we want to have or need to have in order to operate smoothly on the field.”
Broadway wakes up at 5:30 a.m. every morning to wash his face and brush his teeth so he does not miss his mandatory meeting at 6 a.m. After the meeting, the team goes to the locker room to put on all their gear for the day.
After stretching, the Broadway and the other offensive lineman will do some individual work and battle the defensive lineman in 1-on-1 drills. Then, the entire team will practice together.
With the new changes the NCAA has made this year, Broadway and his teammates are treating this fall like it was the spring offseason since Eastern Illinois’ conference, the Ohio Valley Conference has decided to do their seven game all-region play schedule this spring.
“It’s gonna be different that’s for sure, but this helps me tremendously,” Broadway said. “I get a couple more months to learn the offense, critique my footwork, steps, etc. Most importantly, I can get bigger, stronger and faster and be better in shape and better prepared for this level of competition.”
Breakfast comes soon after practice because the team goes to the weight room to lift at 10:30 a.m. Once Broadway is done, it’s a shower and a nap before class starts at 1 p.m.
“What motivates me is working hard day in and day out with my brothers in the trenches, just knowing how good we can and will be,” Broadway said.
The offensive lineman will report back at Easten Illinois’ O’Brien Stadium at 4 p.m. for another round of position meetings for around an hour, or until it is time to go to the mandatory team dinner.
“My favorite part is being able to play the game I love with my new brothers, but I do try to carve some time out to play some video games with the boys back in the ‘Ville,” Broadway said.
Broadway kept busy in his time at Dawson County. He was a four sport athlete in high school, playing football, basketball, track and field and was a member of the first ever Dawson County eSports team.
Keeping a busy schedule is something that he is used to, but he said this is the most structured his life has ever been and he is still getting a hold of it. However, fifth year senior Cole Hoover has been keeping Broadway’s head afloat, even during this unsure time.
“He knows the game better than anyone i’ve ever met,” Broadway said. “After practice, he gets with me and we work on something different everyday that I struggled on and critiques and makes me a day better one step at a time, learning the ins and outs. College football would definitely be ten times harder if it wasn’t for him.”
Broadway said he knows it’s important to build good habits now so he can be ready once Eastern Illinois can play on the field as a team again.
“I love football,” Broadway said. “I’m here for my team through thick and thin.”