Pasadena City College (PCC) is scheduled to restart its tentative sports season for Spring 2021 after the COVID-19 virus abruptly ended the Spring season earlier this year. Football, cross-country, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s and women’s basketball are scheduled to have their first practice Jan. 18. 

PCC’s Rudy Aguilar is one of two head athletic trainers. One of his roles is to help student-athletes with small cuts and bruises, but also minor and major injuries. Aguilar also preps the field and takes out medical equipment before practice and games. Next sports season he’ll be adding another role, which is sanitizing all of the sports equipment before, during and after practice and games. But even with the new protocols and safety measures, he still expects students to catch the virus. 

“Basketball, volleyball, water polo, soccer, badminton, those are the ones with my highest concerns because, as you can see with the NCAA, it’s all over the place,” Aguilar said. “Even with the NFL, they’re having a hard time with it. They throw money at it and they can’t control it, what makes community colleges think they can control that aspect?”

Prior to COVID-19, Aguilar showed up at his office around 10:00 a.m. He started treatment with athletes in-person until 3:30 p.m. He needed to be present for the practices which happened throughout the day and games at night. But fall season was the heaviest because football season is customarily played in the fall and they have the largest rosters.  

“Now we’re doing a lot of telehealth situations,” Aguiar said. “The last nine months, ever since we’ve gone on COVID protocols, I’ve been meeting with my athletes. I’ve been doing personalized protocols for them. Which can be anything from me making videos here in the office or at home, depending on the situation. And then catching up with them and following up to make sure they’re doing their program and progress them into a healthier state.”

Cross-country, football, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and water polo are customarily played in the fall. This year they will be joining badminton, softball, swimming and diving and track and field, sports that are maintaining tradition. 

Pre-COVID Aguilar had an assistant to fill in the gaps because there have been times when he’s been on campus for more than 12 hours. He also received interns from nearby colleges such as California State University of Los Angeles and California State University of Long Beach. At this time, the protocols have not been cemented, so it is unclear whether or not he’ll receive additional help. Aguilar stated he doesn’t complain, but he also projects that he’ll be working 55-60 hours per week without the added help. 

“My social life will be non-existent,” Aguilar said. “But there’s no social life anyway.”

Money is the major issue that community colleges are facing. Community colleges have leaned heavily on the National College Athletic Association (NCAA), but the NCAA had a revenue of 18.9 billion dollars in 2019. Community Colleges such as the National Junior College Athletic Association have stated that even football is very expensive at the junior college level. The cost of equipment, travel and staff salaries fall on the school because there are no multi-million dollar rights deals or booster donations. The cost of the testing may put an end to community college sports. 

“The way this thing spreads to your family, your father, your mother, your grandparents,” Aguilar said. “That’s the biggest concern. And the selfishness that I see. But then again, the selfishness is 18 to 24. You’re only thinking about yourself all the time. You’re not thinking about what will happen if you kill someone else.”

The protocols that Aguilar receives starts at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC will relay that information to the individual state governments like California and from there California will put out those guidelines. Schools like PCC will try to fit those guidelines into a college game situation. It doesn’t end there because the schools may have questions. If there are questions, the schools will go to their associations such as the California Community College Athletics Association (CCCAA) and the California Community College Athletic Trainers Association, who will then go back to the state governments for more clarification. 

“The protocols by spring, who knows,” Aguilar said. “The protocols could change again, but right now I’m thinking as long as we have enough footballs out there every twenty to thirty minutes we’re out there with spray bottles and towels wiping things down. Right now that’s the protocol.”

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