The effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the sports community has not gone unnoticed. Many seasons and major tournaments were either postponed or cancelled; from the big stage of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo being moved to 2021 to high school spring sports. There was a major sigh of relief from fans when one by one, sporting events returned, with extreme precautions and regulations of course.
So I wanted to hear and share some viewpoints from a few Bogota coaches and student-athletes about their experience during the coronavirus pandemic. What were their initial thoughts in the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic? How has the coronavirus pandemic affected them? How has the return to play during COVID-19 been? What has been their biggest challenge(s)?
Ms. Monika, Athletic Trainer (10/13/2020): I still remember when athletics was shut down. Spring sports were only 6 days into practice; not even a full week in. My coaches mentioned the possibility of school being shut down for 2 weeks. But everyone thought that it would be just that - a two week hiatus from school. Seven months later...
As an athletic trainer, you're taught to always expect the unexpected and prepare a plan or policy for every scenario [emergency action plan, lightning policy, heat exhaustion, concussion, musculoskeletal injuries, etc.]. Yet I don't think ANYTHING could have prepared me or any other athletic trainer for what was to come; a worldwide pandemic.
I tried to remain optimistic for a return to spring sports and school, especially for my senior student-athletes. They were missing out on so much -- prom, senior trip; walking across the stage for graduation. But sooner or later, we all had to accept the inevitable.
So how has it been since the NJSIAA returned to sports on July 13th. It's been very BUSY and sometimes downright frustrating. No one had all of the answers to follow-up questions. On top of the other responsibilities of an athletic trainer, let's add screener, contact tracer, mask-enforcer, and everything else COVID-19 related. Writing the COVID-19 guidelines for athletics has been very specific and detail-oriented. My most annoying task has been creating a water supply system that is hands-free, especially when you purchase the wrong water spigot. But here's the real kicker--> no matter how much preparation and planning you can do to enforce all of the procedures are carried through in the correct manner to the very last minute detail, at the end of the day what an individual does on their own time outside of athletics is out of your control.
I've had to deal with my own anxieties in returning to work on a daily basis and returning home to my own family. To be honest, it's a day by day process. I'm continuing my vitamin intake to build up my immune system, staying vigilant of my surroundings, wearing my mask in public, engaging in physical activities, etc. It's overwhelming at times because my job is to protect the health and safety of my student-athletes, coaches, athletic staff; and consequently their families, close loved ones, and friends. However, the long hours of writing guidelines, preparations of additional supplies, buying and returning back water systems TWICE, and disinfecting are very much worth it when your student-athletes can come together and play a sport that they enjoy. I'm definitely a team player; ALL IN or nothing else!Coach K, Boy's Track & Field Head Coach (04/27/2021): It has been a breath of fresh air for me to return to in-person coaching and it is one of the things that I look forward to every day since the start of the season. I am cautiously optimistic and hopeful that by taking the necessary precautions that the season will continue without interruption. I am excited to see how each and every one of the track team student-athletes will perform this season. It has been far too long and I am ecstatic to be back!Coach Mahoney, Boy's Basketball Head Coach (04/27/2021): As someone who started coaching Varsity Boys Basketball in 1979 I only knew that practice started in November, then you had a season, then after a 2 week break I started getting ready for the next season. I did this routine til March 2020 when Covid 19 rocked our world. I spent from March 2020 to January 11, 2021 in a world that quite frankly I had no idea how to deal with the situation. I spent those months texting and emailing our players and coaches and sending them articles BUT not seeing the players was REALLY a tough situation. When we started the season on January 11, 2021 I did not know whether to coach like I did for 41 prior years or find a new path. It took me a couple of weeks to adjust, and what I realized was the kids needed a place where they could feel normal. I also realized that these teenagers needed to enjoy the time we had together. Our Athletic Director Brad DiRupo was incredible in getting us to play 13 games. The most difficult thing was telling the players when other teams had to shut down and we had no games. What made the players happy was having an open gym atmosphere instead of our normal practices. We had no freshmen team and we had to drop JV after 6 games. The last practice the kids bought in food and played pick up games half court. THEY WERE ENJOYING THEMSELVES AND THAT MADE A 66 year old smile. I hope I can have open gyms soon, the kids need them. I finished my 42nd Year as the Varsity Coach at Bogota and seeing the boys eat pizza and chips and play pick up games at our last practice was one of the nicest moments I ever experience. My thanks to Gary Hicks, Sean Gaffney and Kyle Mahoney for helping me during this trying time.Amandine Fernandez, Girls Cross Country/ Track & Field Athlete (04/28/2021): My name is Amandine Fernandez, I am a sophomore at Bogota Jr./Sr. High school and I do Cross Country and Track and Field. To start off, the return to play during Covid-19 for me has been pretty good so far since nothing has gotten cancelled yet and I know it feels a little different because it feels a lot more empty but I know I am just there to make achievements for my team and for me personally. My biggest challenge has definitely been getting back to the rhythm of me running the amount of miles that I used to during my freshman and sophomore year of Cross Country but I love the pain of me pushing myself to get farther and farther and just feeling the progress.This pandemic has for sure affected my mental health, in the beginning and middle, I started to lose motivation in school and in running because of personal things going on and just not being able to go out normally like we used to but I think near the end, I wanted to get myself together even if it meant I still wasn't going to be completely awesome at school but I was going to give in the effort and if it still comes out badly, at least I knew I tried. To be honest, my initial thoughts returning this season was having to figure out a whole new sport because during freshman year, I had 1 week of track practice and it got cancelled so I never got to figure out how track works but now I have since the season has gone on for a little longer but for this season, I am focused setting a new goal every day after every single practice and after every single meet to be able to push past my limits even farther to see what my body is capable of but overall, I got a track meet today in eighty five degree weather and my face is going to be bright red so let's see how that goes but those are my initial thoughts on returning back to the season! To sum it all up, that has been my experience returning to sports during the Covid pandemic.Ms. Monika, Athletic Trainer (06/21/2021): Where, oh where, shall I begin?! This year was definitely one for the books. The COVID school year that turned almost everything virtual. But that's obviously kind of hard to do for sports. In July, it will be one full year since sports started again. It's been months of implementing the new normal of daily questionnaires, temperature checks, wearing of face coverings, enforcing physical distancing, properly disinfecting equipment, among many other behind the scenes adjustments. Shout-out to ALL athletic trainers! Y'all are the real MVPs. Not to toot my own horn but if you seriously knew the work done behind the scenes (the many, MANY day-to-day guidelines, updates, protocols, questions, unanswered questions, what-if scenarios, phone calls, text messages, emails, etc.). It's been four long sports seasons (technically five if you include the summer season).
However, in the end all that mattered was to get my student-athletes safely back on the field and make it a season to remember aside from the obvious reasons. And it was just that! A CHAMPIONSHIP year of many celebrated wins! Football won the Union Division Championship, Boys and Girls Cross Country were the Patriot Division Champions (again), Girls Volleyball went undefeated to claim the sectional championship, Baseball partnered with Saddle Brook and had a stellar season, another 1000+ point basketball player was added to the ranks, along with many individual achievements and PRs.
One major positive for myself. Being that I did temperature and daily questionnaire checks for most of the sports, I learned the names and faces of EVERY student-athlete. I was able to greet each student-athlete individually by name. THAT IS HUGE. And I tried to take what may seem like a small thing seriously. Especially with this pandemic, you don’t know how they may be affected at home or in their everyday living, so greeting each student-athlete and having small talk may be a big deal. Looking back, it definitely brightened some of my days. I’ve also been able to introduce myself to just about EVERY parent with an email or two or ten.
Lastly to the graduating Class of 2021 student-athletes. I hope that you all had a little bit of normalcy with sports. It wasn't until recently that I realized this graduating senior class started 7th grade my first year at BHS. Thanks for all of the great memories-- the random visits to the ATR during lunch or bathroom breaks, the many hang-out sessions in the ATR before and after practice/games (sorry coaches), the many conversations and catch-up sessions [checking-in emails], the many celebrations, tons and tons of laughs, jokes, and nicknames. All good times indeed! Class of 2021, thanks for being you! Though I'm sad to see y'all leave, I wish you all the very best that life has to offer! Continue to make me proud. #BucPride
March is National Athletic Training Month
National Athletic Training Month is held every March in order to spread awareness about the important work of athletic trainers. During March, athletic trainers across America are being recognized for their commitment to helping people prevent injuries, stay healthy and active. Athletic trainers are multi-skilled health care professionals. Highly educated and dedicated to the job at hand, athletic trainers can be found in high schools and colleges, corporations, professional sports, the military, performing arts and clinics, hospitals and physician offices. They provide compassionate and quality health care for all.
During the pandemic, athletic trainers have been essential whether it's conducting COVID-19 screenings for testing or ensuring a safe practice environment for their student-athletes with daily pre-screenings in collegiate and secondary school settings. From injury prevention and enhanced wellness, to rehabilitation and return to activity, athletic trainers are ESSENTIAL to health care in work, life and sport.
The 2021 slogan is "ATs are Essential to Health Care."
When is the last time you thanked your athletic trainer? Show your athletic trainer some love and appreciation this month!
They've earned it!