On April 12, the Dean and staff from the Mesa Athletics department brought student-athletes back on campus, with protocols such as social distancing and mask wearing being prerequisites for an athlete to return.
Mesa Athletic Director Ryan Shumaker, excitedly welcomed back the athletes and said that the primary focus is on their [athlete] safety and well-being, while allowing them to continue their pursuit of academic and athletic excellence.
“Our student-athletes, coaches, and support staff have really worked hard to make our return to campus a reality. As the Dean and Athletic Director, I couldn’t be more proud of their work and dedication to their team, our athletics program, and San Diego Mesa College,” Shumaker said.
The process of return was no simple task. The staff, coaches, and athletes had to coordinate with one another to get the athletes cleared and back on the field. The athletes would have to undergo their clearance with a physical and a screening process for COVID-19 on campus.
“The work of our coaches, support staff, and Athletic Retention Technicians, and Mesa Student Services helped to guide and retain our student-athletes while we worked our way through a challenging, remote environment and their efforts are to be applauded,” added Shumaker.
On campus, different sports come in at different times of the day. For example, football has a time slot for Monday in the afternoon whereas track and field has designated practice on Tuesday mornings. Their time on campus is also limited due to other sports sharing the field.
Sophomore Oliver Fideler, who is on the track and field team, said that he is excited to be back training at the facilities and seeing his teammates. “I think it’s gonna be really funny. It’s just like having your butt kicked by your coach and being able to condition with everybody and feeling that pain again,” Fideler noted. He added, “It’s weird to say because back when everything was normal, you wouldn’t dread going into practice but now I’m kind of excited for it.”
Sophomore Franky Varela shared the same sentiment. “It’s going to become more real when I’m actually on the field soon. But it’s definitely nice to be here and excited to figure this out with everyone else.”
Although the athletes have returned, the remaining time they have left of their season hasn’t changed. Varela shared one of his goals of improving and building consistency with the time he has left. “I think based on my first year of running, I definitely know Coach Ricketts got me there at the very end, so I’m kind of excited to start back up again and see where that goes.”
Varela mentioned how the support from their coaches was one of their main motivators that kept them pushing through quarantine and getting back on campus. Fideler noted, “If there was a way to support a huge team through zoom just online, I think they probably did the best job they could.” Varela commented, “It’s definitely exciting to finally see our coaches and kind of give them that praise of all the work they put in as well to help us get to this point.”
“Coach Jackie would always text us almost every week and every day, communicating updates and keeping up the positivity has motivated us to return to campus and endure through the pandemic,” said sophomore Arianna Izaguirre.
“We are all looking forward to progressing through our plan and getting “back to normal” as soon as possible,” remarked Shumaker.