Preparing student-athletes to win … in masks

Teresa Dulac

Sports Editor

The student-athletes of Franciscan were hit hard with the canceling of their seasons, but they weren’t without help. Sarah Albaugh is the co-head athletic trainer at Franciscan and runs the training room alongside her other co-head, Anita Hartzel. Both Albaugh and Hartzel work hard to support all student-athletes, even within a pandemic.

Both trainers began their preparations for the fall 2020 semester in the summer, staying busy as they planned for all the teams to return.

“I felt like we had a lot more meetings, a lot more Zoom calls than usual, just because we always got prepared, then something would change,” said Albaugh. “It was very frustrating, because we would plan for pre-season camps and all these teams coming in, and we would find out by the end of the week that only three teams are coming in, so then we’d have to change the plan.”

“Originally we were told that we were going to have soccer,” said Albaugh. “Then two weeks later we were told it was just tennis and cross country, then just tennis and golf. … We didn’t find out the track team wasn’t coming until like three days beforehand.”

Despite the cancellation of Division III fall sports, the training room remains open for sports teams, students and staff.

Albaugh said that the training room has increased its cleaning standards and is attempting to limit exposure between teams. Each sport has its own designated hours to come to the training room.

“We’re just breaking it up so that the teams don’t really interact, and you only interact amongst your team,” said Albaugh.

Since the halt on sports seasons, all teams are in their “non-traditional” season.

“I feel like we have more practices to cover, because we treat you guys all the same,” said Albaugh. “Before, it was like, if you’re in season we would focus on in-season, and the non-traditional would get the back burner. But now that everyone’s in the same playing field … (scheduling) is just as chaotic as it normally is.”

Although the gym stays full, Albaugh says that this semester is not as busy in terms of individual training because of the absence of contact sports.

“We haven’t had the athletes with head injuries or any more severe injuries that come along with contact. If we do get the chance to go to contact (sports), I feel like we will be busier,” said Albaugh.

Albaugh says that one of the biggest changes this semester is keeping student-athletes optimistic about the continuation of their sports.

“(We’re) helping student-athletes concentrate and realize that yes, we don’t have games right now, but (training) is still important,” said Albaugh. “You know, everybody got robbed of a couple months of their sport, and it was stressful for everyone. So even though we can’t play games, (we’re) just trying to remain as normal as possible. I think it’s very different, because we’re usually the ones saying, ‘Okay, we’re in it, let’s go!’ and now we’re saying, ‘We will be there! You’ll be okay!’”

“I think just talking about the fact of, how do we keep teams motivated and healthy when they don’t have a game to look forward to,” said Albaugh. “PAC (Presidents’ Athletic Conference) released a tentative schedule. … We do have an idea of when they’re going to play games in the spring, which is super exciting because we have something to look forward to finally.”

Albaugh finished by encouraging all student-athletes to take advantage of the return to community after being away from school for so long.

“This is your time to shine,” said Albaugh. “Be responsible and take of yourself … thrive in the community that you’re in!”

Albaugh and her team will continue to serve the student-athletes of Franciscan, masks and all.