MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Cell phones are a huge part of society and are often a major distraction in the classroom, the workplace, at home and almost everywhere. One college football team is looking to break the stigma and put their phones away.
The West Virginia football team has decided to try something new this season and put cell phones aside at mealtime in order to bond with each other.
Head coach Neal Brown implemented the idea this spring to force the players to really get to know their teammates. Instead of sitting with other position players, everyone sits with groups of players that they wouldn’t normally sit with.
The Mountaineers cannot have their phones, cannot wear hats or wear hoods. Instead they sit there and learn to talk with one another.
“Not that phones were making us distant but now we actually talk about anything because that’s all we can do,” running back Leddie Brown said. “We can’t just sit there on our phones now. We’re actually communicating.”
The new rule helps the players maintain focus.
“You have to remind yourself sometimes because you don’t realize how much you use your phone on a daily basis,” cornerback Keith Washington said. “But it’s not that much of a difference and that much of an impact. It’s just following the rules and doing like coach says and everybody is pretty much going with the program.”
With the policy in order, WVU coaches are hoping to not only to help players build deep relationships with each other but develop trust as well.
“It’s just to get to know the people around you, to get to know your teammates,” defensive lineman Reese Donahue said. “One thing that I think is important and they made it really, really vital point the other day in practice the other day as we were doing PAT. We were lined up over in the neutral zone and the guy on the end Josh Norwood, he’s yelling ‘back up, back up, back up’ and only a couple backed up and it wasn’t the person who’s off the ball.
“He was like listen if you could would put your phones down when you’re eating and be more social, he might be like ‘Hey Reese, get off the ball.’ Obviously I’m just using me as an example but he was making a point that the more that you know the people around you, the more you trust the people around you, the better football team you’re going to be in the long run because you can not only know the people around you but rely on them. You know what they’ve been through. You know if they’re going through something at home, being apart of that and helping them through it makes you stronger.”
In the end, this new policy could help the Mountaineers much like it did the Texas Tech basketball team that did a similar thing the night before games and at team meals.
“It’s making us a better team,” Donahue said. “It’s just helping us transform to the people we want to be. It’s helping us grow together.”
The coaching staff and players are trying to develop a more family oriented relationship with each other and trying to separate work from what goes on off the gridiron.
“That is one thing this staff has done a phenomenal job of is when we’re outside of football, we don’t talk about football,” Donahue said. “We talk about you, we talk about your grades, your home life and we’ve adopted it as players too. Honestly, it’s important to talk about football because that’s what we do, that’s what we’re here for but we’re talking about the things that really matter when we’re away from here.”
While the change was a difficult adjustment for some at first, everyone is currently onboard.
“It was a big change at first and a lot of guys weren’t happy with it but ultimately now, I think everybody has bought in and it’s a good thing,” Donahue added.
Cover Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS