By Breanna Fierro
East Los Angeles College football team and ELAC’s athletics department discussed their return following the implementation of weekly COVID-19 NCAA safety guidelines.
There is optimism that ELAC’s football will return to a full fall schedule, but that won’t happen until ELAC and the Los Angeles Community College District gives the authorization.
The aftermath of COVID-19 restrictions has also affected the bond between players and coaches.
Football isn’t just about physical conditioning.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the bond in which coaches have with players and each other has gone missing over the past year.
Football Head Coach Bobby Godinez prides himself in not losing student athletes.
He said ELAC’s football team starts the year with 100 students and ends up having close to 100 students move onto graduate with scholarships. For the first time in his coaching career there was an extraordinary circumstance that enabled student athletes to find doors elsewhere or fall through the cracks.
“There wasn’t much we could do as coaches but hang on for life and it was a struggle and continues to be. So it’s good to be back on campus so they can move in a positive direction, but it’s been a tough decision,” Godinez said.
L.A. County has been one of the last counties in California to loosen restrictions on COVID-19 protocols.
Godinez said ELAC’s football team began conditioning in-person once again on April 12. The beginning of moving equipment began Monday, as well as players weekly COVID-19 tests as part of protocol requirements for testing.
Teams are only allowed to participate in conditioning drills and all activities must be performed outdoors.
Plans such as conditioning on the football field and maintaining groups of 10 or less while practicing and in keeping with the six foot social distancing protocols has led to an evolution in the training regime.
No formal practice with equipment will be held within the department. Any use of indoor facilities is prohibited. These restrictions apply to all sports, not only football.
Student athletes will start from scratch, specifically those in football. Due to COVID-19 many athletes stopped training and conditioning on a day to day basis, but overall coaches feel good about returning.
Despite not having sports events, ELAC’s athletic department is still active.
“Sometimes students feel that because there are no games going on that means there is no athletic department or activities and that’s the furthest thing from the truth,” Haynes said.
Last year ELAC’s athletic website created a feature called “Ask a Husky” where student athletes were interviewed. They were asked how they were coping with having to move off-campus due to COVID-19, and how they addressed that.
Haynes said, “There are going to be many lessons for us to learn from this, and there is a silver-lining in terms of interpersonal relationships, the value of working and learning how to balance home-life, that there will be a lot of lessons moving forward; these are lessons that would have never been forced to face otherwise.”