The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, July 07, 2020 1:00 am

WNBA's older coaches at higher virus risk

41.6% older than 60; Seattle's staying home

DOUG FEINBERG | Associated Press

NEW YORK – Mike Thibault knows he could be at higher risk for severe illness if he gets the coronavirus because of his age.

The 69-year-old Washington Mystics coach didn't hesitate about going to Bradenton, Florida, with his team Monday to prepare for the virus-delayed WNBA season.

“There's no guarantee. Living in D.C., I wear my mask and stay away from people,” Thibault said. “You go to the grocery store or have food delivered, there is some risk involved in your life. That's the nature of the virus. I'm not at the same risk as that grocery store worker or restaurant owner heading to work every day. We're going to a controlled environment.”

Thibault is one of five head coaches in the league over 60, including three over 65 – which puts them in the higher risk category, according to the CDC.

No other major sports league has as high a percentage (41.6%) of head coaches over 60.

“It's our job,” said Dallas Wings coach Brian Agler, who is one of the five. “I'm not more concerned because it's Florida, as the virus is hitting everywhere right now.”

Florida is one of the hot spots for the virus in the U.S., with the state reporting more than 21,000 new cases last weekend.

While four of the five sexagenarian head coaches plan on being in Florida, Seattle's Dan Hughes won't attend.

Hughes, 65, missed nine games last year after having a cancerous tumor removed from his digestive tract.

The coaches believe the league is taking every precaution it can to ensure the safety of everyone heading to IMG Academy, including testing, mask wearing and social distancing.

“If people do what they are supposed to do, we'll be safer than the rest of the country,” Thibault said.

“We are going to a facility where we are minimizing risk and we should be in a safe environment.”

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