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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The promising outlook of sports at City College post-pandemic
Graphic created by Ashleigh Bennett (Ashleigh Bennett/[email protected])

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected City College greatly— which can be notably seen with City College’s athletic programs and the adjustments that student athletes have had to make as a result of the pandemic. 

The current state of sports now looks much clearer and brighter than it did a year ago, with City College now being able to hold outdoor events such as football and soccer games, as well as allowing people to attend sporting events that were held outdoors. Other fall sports like volleyball did not allow attendees, but games were streamed online. The spring semester for all indoor sports is set to be even closer to normal for everyone, such as people attending the games, coaches, and the student athletes.

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic took full effect on the country, forcing most people — besides essential workers — to stay home, and work or attend class remotely. Throughout the pandemic, sports were virtually non-existent at City College, with many student athletes and coaches having to find new ways to interact with each other, along with the additional challenge of student athletes needing to complete their college coursework.

Derek Sullivan, head coach of the City College baseball team, expressed the challenges that he and the Panthers had to go through in terms of navigating during the pandemic.

“It was really hard to deal with the last two years for a long stretch of time,” Sullivan said. “We had to do nothing. We just had one Zoom meeting a week in the fall of 2020. At one point, we told all our sophomores they should leave. It was difficult not being able to socialize and interact with others.” 

It was not gloomy for everyone on the baseball team, though, as some either went on to graduate or went on to sign scholarships to play at four-year universities. The baseball team was finally able to play a partial season in spring 2021 — which was exciting news for Coach Sullivan and his players.

“We felt like we got gifted a partial season in the spring of 2021,” Sullivan said. “For me, that was a big relief. The transition to going from nothing to something you’re passionate about was very exciting. Getting the go-ahead for ‘here’s how this is going to work’ and being the driving force for how these systems are going to be in place for coming back physically in person, we didn’t mind much of it because we got to come out and do stuff.”

Sullivan understands that differing viewpoints on the vaccine can affect the team and yet, he remains optimistic about the current state of sports at City College. 

“I would think moving forward that things will get back to normal since there has been a lot of consistency up to this point,” Sullivan said. “There are weekly checks for those who were vaccinated and got exceptions. Everyone that is vaccinated is in a much safer place. I am just happy we are in a position to play games and travel on buses. I will take this over what we had.”

When Sullivan met with his players on Zoom once a week last fall, he said that he wanted to make sure that his players were learning something new and engaged in what he was sharing with them, so that they could focus on something positive, rather than what was going on in their daily lives.

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“We just worked on our mental skills,” Sullivan said. “We knew we could not have any physical control over our players. We knew that we had players where there were limited situations where they could practice. It was nice to get together and there was a lot of dialogue. We wanted to take their mind off things and we talked about baseball. If anything, it worked for all of our guys.”

Sullivan talked about how fortunate his players were compared to players who played contact sports during the pandemic and the advantages that baseball has compared to other sports under the conditions of the pandemic.

“Baseball is a socially distanced sport, almost automatically,” he said. “We had it easier than most of the others.” 

The spring semester for sports at City College is heading toward a path of normalcy.

Mitch Campbell, the dean and athletic director at City College, was hopeful and optimistic about how sports will look in the spring.

“In the upcoming semester, the more the restrictions for COVID are lifted, the more outdoor and indoor sporting events will become even more common on campus,” Campbell said.

Campbell put an emphasis on ensuring that people attending the events and games are safe and vaccinated.

“Vaccination mandates will be enforced and will serve as a safety precaution for people who decide to attend large sporting events at Sac City,” he said. 

When talking to Campbell, he was very proud of how all sports have managed to traverse the landscape COVID created and most importantly, how student athletes have been able to adjust to the pandemic.

“The adjustment for the student athletes has been easy, and they have acclimated to playing sports again with each other,” Campbell said. “They are a resilient group of people, and how they have adjusted so easily after the pandemic says a lot about their character.”

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