Fullerton Athletic Trainers pave the way for safe sports conditioning

Courtesy Fullerton College Athletics
Courtesy Fullerton College Athletics

By Paul Schulz
The Hornet

FULLERTON - Fullerton College student-athletes recently returned to campus to begin conditioning for the upcoming abbreviated sports season.

The CCCAA plans for most fall and spring teams to play in one of two seasons this spring, assuming that all continues as planned.

Sports that typically play in the fall are scheduled to compete in an early spring season from February to April, while the traditional spring sports will have a late spring season from March to May.

To ensure the highest level of health safety for Hornet athletes, the athletic training staff compiled an extensive screening process in which all athletes must participate in order to be allowed to join in conditioning.

"I am confident [the college has] a plan which will address all of the challenges associated with COVID-19 and when the right time comes, we will be ready … Athletics will return but with such uncertainty about the trajectory of the pandemic within society there is no specific timeline for when it will be safe to return at this time," said Lorena Tarnay, Fullerton College's co-head Athletic Trainer.

The athletic department's screening and safety protocols include COVID specific screening questions, contact tracing measures to ensure that each team is separated from other teams and social distancing at all times when on campus.

There is also a requirement for facial coverings at all times except when conditioning, no sharing of equipment and personal responsibility for student-athletes to practice proper precautions while off-campus.

"Social distancing is achieved by dividing the teams into 'pods' of 10 or fewer student-athletes each. These pods participate in contactless, socially distanced athletic conditioning activities. Teams are not scrimmaging or conducting drills that require students to share equipment," said a campus-wide "COVID-19 weekly update" email distributed by Fullerton College.

The athletic training staff stressed the importance of staying home should a student-athlete experience any possible COVID symptoms. Student-athletes are supposed to contact an athletic trainer for detailed instructions on symptom management.

All athletic coaches, administrators and athletes have been educated and tested on important information about COVID-19.

According to Tarnay both coaches and administrators had to complete an online course as well as a certificate of completion of the course.

Student-athletes are responsible for completing and submitting a daily COVID-19 symptom checklist prior to arriving on campus.

The Athletic Trainers play a crucial role in maintaining the safety and proper execution of athletic conditioning each day on campus. When student-athletes arrive on campus for conditioning, athletic trainers execute a temperature check of each individual and certify that they completed their daily COVID-19 symptom checklist.

Athletic trainers then provide each individual with a wristband which certifies that they have checked in and allow each individual to proceed to their conditioning session.

Although student-athletes and coaches recently returned to campus a few weeks ago, Tarnay has been hard at work throughout the pandemic and the school's closure finding the best ways to keep people safe.

"I have had the pleasure of being on a COVID-19 Action Team made up of 40+ community college Athletic Trainers across the state … The pandemic and its impact on Athletics have provided multiple challenges and are ever-changing so we have tried to address issues as they come up," Tarnay said regarding the preparation that has taken place in order to get athletic activities up and running on campus.

Although the road to bring student-athletes back to campus has not been easy, Tarnay is excited to be back and working with everyone who is involved in making the athletic program succeed.

"I have a great co-head athletic trainer who supports me, challenges me and I am grateful to work with him on a daily basis … In addition, my athletes are also a huge reason why I love my job," Tarnay said. "The community college athlete is so unique because of the responsibilities and challenges they face outside of school and sport. Earning their trust and respect and providing them with quality care makes them an especially grateful population and I genuinely feel like I am making a difference."