Gavilan College kinesiology and athletics programs impacted by COVID-19 pandemicby Jan Janes on Oct 12, 2020
With Santa Clara County Shelter in Place order March 16, Gavilan’s spring sports programs shut down in the midst of the season. For some freshmen, the season only lasted six weeks before the college closed.
Erik Hilliker (left) and Rebecca Northon (right), are certified athletic trainers who worked
with a statewide taskforce to develop the Gavilan College Athletics Resocialization Protocol.
“As athletes we are wired to compete, every sport we offer is a team sport, and we work towards common goals,” said Ron Hannon, Dean of Kinesiology and Athletics.
Lack of face to face interaction is especially difficult for Gavilan’s student athletes. Teamwork functions as an important part of their lives as they engage in fitness and training.
“This hub of learning, training and teaching,” he said, “It’s a tool we don’t have access to right now. Even in the off season, teamwork is part of our development plan.”
The pandemic has impacted every college across the country. Opportunities for athletes who were vying for scholarships have been shut down. Young people just coming into their prime, with great expectations, have dreams and goals.
Because the college could not hold face to face classes during shelter in place, coaches have been working to maintain connection. Darlene Del Carmen, counselor for the program, attends team meetings. And coaches are creatively reinventing their classes, virtually.
Athletes: we make your life better by coming to Gavilan College
For many students, the main reason they are in college is to pursue the opportunity to compete.
“That very brief time you get to spend with them changes the trajectory for those young people,” said Hannon. “The one motivational tool we have to change their lives is on the shelf right now.”
He describes the coaches as change agents, whether it’s for one semester or three years.
“A lot of us experienced it first hand, and a third of the staff attended Gavilan as students,” said Hannon. “The experience is so life altering, they want to make the same impact they experienced as students.”
Gavilan’s athletic trainers develop model protocol for return to sports
Erik Hilliker and Rebecca Northon, certified athletic trainers in Gavilan’s Athletics program who work with the teams, collaborated to create a model Athletics Resocialization Protocol.
As certified health care providers in a community college setting, they worked with the athletes on all the teams every day, offering rehabilitation, evaluating injuries, getting them safely back into competition.
Northon has worked at Gavilan for eight years, Hilliker for two. They both attended San Diego State University and pursued similar training.
“Training at the same place, in the same discipline, we collaborate so well together,” said Northon.
Other certified athletic trainers from across the state came together as a task force to discuss how to safely return to face-to-face team competition. They developed a broadly written document for other colleges to use to create their own guidelines.
That document was completed in early June, and faculty prepared a Gavilan-specific plan for athletes to return to team competition.
“It’s a fluid document, said Northon. “Once the State or County comes out with new guidelines, we have to adapt to those guidelines.”
Hilliker and Northon worked over a weekend on updates to comply with new guidelines from the Institute of Higher Education. They presented the Athletics Resocialization Protocol tailored to Gavilan sports to Gavilan’s Emergency Operations Center, and it was approved in late August.
“Our Coast Conference wanted to review the document,” said Hilliker, “And asked if they could post them. Our goal is to return to athletics as safely as possible.”
Athletics involves hands on training, which is hard to mimic in a virtual environment. The 35-page document draws on available research and science.
“Erik and I didn’t write this by ourselves,” said Northon. “This was a statewide, collaborative effort that we used to Gavilan’s benefit. Collaboration is something athletic trainers are incredibly good at.”
Building the plan for the return of team sports
“We want students and staff to be safe and healthy,” said Hannon. “Returning to face-to-face team sports, we will be very methodical.”
The plan is to move all sports to the Spring 2021 semester. Fall sports would normally start in August and finish in November. On the new schedule, they will start in January and end in early April.
Spring sports will start in April and end in June, about a month after traditional spring sports season would end.
Like many of the initial plans developed by EOC last spring, these are contingency plans for now.
“I was walking the other day and smelled fresh cut grass and dirt,” said Northon. “I almost cried. I am looking forward to getting back.”