MOORHEAD -- November 23rd was circled on a lot of calendars throughout Minnesota.

It was the day boys basketball and hockey teams could begin practicing for their seasons.

After dance and adapted floor hockey, boys basketball and hockey were going to be the first teams to have that opportunity. Boys swimming and diving, alpine and Nordic skiing, girls hockey, and wrestling were set to begin practicing on Nov. 30th, while gymnastics and girls basketball would start Dec. 7th.

Just like 2020 is known to do, those plans were changed.

Minnesota high school sports are on pause because of COVID-19 until at least December 18th.

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So on Monday, the basketball gyms were closed. The hockey rinks were silent.

"It was weird," said Warroad hockey coach Jay Hardwick. "I went home after work, sat down, and turned the TV on and started thinking, 'I should be on the ice now.'"

New Moorhead boys basketball coach Matt Ellingson usually works himself up before big events, like his first practice.

"I'm someone who if I have something big going on the next day, it takes me awhile to fall asleep the night before," Ellingson said.

"It was Sunday night when it hit me, 'Wow, we were supposed to start tomorrow.'"

They face the challenge that many coaches around the state are figuring out right now: what is the right way to coach a team when you can not be with them in person?

A lot of it will be on making sure players don't get complacent while the break goes on.

"Kids are going to continue to find ways to be active at their individual homes," Ellingson said. "Maybe it's doing individual ball handling drills in their garage, or doing pushups or sit-ups or running stairs."

It's not just the schemes and physical side they worry about. It's also the mental side they know they have to take care of.

"I've let them all know that if they need anything from me, I'm only a phone call or text message away," Hardwick said. "Even if they need someone to vent to, I can be that guy they vent to."

There's a bigger message they are wanting to send their players too.

It will be one that coaches of more winter sports teams will tell their players as their first practice date comes and goes.

"They have two opponents this year: the next team on their schedule and the virus," Ellingson said. "All of us, players, coaches, parents, managers, are all making safe, responsible decisions to ensure that we get this season."

"The kids are going to understand and do what ever it takes to get back on the ice now," Hardwick said.