In any other year, Courtney Banghart would be using the spring to recruit the next wave of players to UNC and work on skills for the next season.
But now the head coach of the UNC women’s basketball team is at her office — practicing social distancing — while the campus in Chapel Hill remains empty.
Speaking with 97.9 The Hill’s Aaron Keck, Banghart reflected on the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has raised.
“This pandemic has put a little bit of a global reset on us all and we’re trying to see the positives,” she said.
In Banghart’s first season with UNC, the Tar Heels finished 16-14 (7-11 ACC) and signed the No. 11 recruiting class in the nation, per ESPN.
Banghart said the pandemic has left UNC at a bit of a disadvantage as compared to other schools in the area.
“Part of the disadvantage we have here is I just got here,” Banghart said. “If you’re the regional schools with [Duke coach Joanne McCallie] and [NC State coach Wes Moore], they’ve been there a long time.”
Normally, Banghart and the women’s basketball staff would be welcoming recruits to campus in the spring. But now, those recruits won’t have the ability to see campus or meet the coaches as they navigate through the recruiting process.
“That’s a bit of a disadvantage,” Banghart said. “But life doesn’t stop for those that are disadvantaged, right? You just keep going and the leaders find a way and that’s what we’re doing.”
UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said the university is planning on students to return to campus for the fall semester. UNC System interim president Bill Roper later expressed the same message.
Looking forward, Banghart said her staff is planning to be back at school in the fall and hoping to get student-athletes on campus in the summer.
“It’s kind of that mix and match of trying to ensure number one, the health and safety of our population, and then how to phase back in where people can get back to the things in a place that they call home.”
UNC students were encouraged not to return to campus following spring break earlier this year. Banghart told 97.9 The Hill that she will discuss the situation with her players when students are given the green light to return to campus.
“I think you never want to put someone in a position where they’re not comfortable, whether there’s COVID-19 or not,” Banghart said. “Everyone has an opportunity to make decisions that they think are right for themselves, when it involves their health and safety.”