With no training or games to look forward to this season due to COVID-19, community college athletes and coaches are instead pitching in to help others in their communities and beyond.
In New Jersey, the Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ) softball team will not be taking the field any time soon, but that did not bench the Roadrunners when it came to uplifting the spirits of elementary school students in Florida’s Brevard Public School District.
For the past few years, the team has participated in community service projects during their spring break. In August, the Roadrunners began their annual initiative collecting school supplies, physical education equipment and gift cards to deliver to children at the Apollo Elementary School. Spearheaded by five elementary education majors, the Roadrunners assembled eight boxes of assorted school and athletic supplies after learning that the students had little-to-no playground equipment.
When the spring break trip and softball season got canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Head Coach Stephen DePasquale and the softball team changed their game plan. The boxes of supplies were shipped to the Apollo School children, rather than delivered personally, so when the children return to school, they’ll have athletic gear waiting for them.
“It has been one of the toughest times I have been through as an educator and a coach. Although it was hard to see my devastated student athletes’ faces after cancelling their trip and the season, the work they have put into this project has been amazing,” DePasquale said in a release from the college.
“Coach Steve always wants us to give back to the community and to help in any way that we can. When we heard about the Apollo School District in Florida we knew we wanted to help out,” said Mackenzie Freas, a sophomore elementary education major. “We had countless boxes filled with not only school supplies, but also playground equipment. Each softball player received donations from family and friends while also donating their own stuff. It was amazing being able to help out so much.”
Coaches and trainers switch gears
And RCSJ assistant women’s volleyball coach Danielle Phillips also has pitched in to help her community. Phillips, who holds a bachelor of science in nursing degree, is working at a COVID-19 testing site two days a week. She also serves as lead case manager three days per week, following up with clients who have tested positive.
She looks forward to returning as the Roadrunners’ assistant volleyball coach in the near future.
“I miss everyone on the team and in our athletic department,” she said. “So many people have contacted me and my nurse colleagues to thank us — and we deeply appreciate everyone’s concerns.”
Like Phillips, Howard Community College’s Tim Happel is switching gears. The Maryland college’s head athletic trainer, who also works as a trainer at MedStar Sports Medicine, is delivering good news. He’s been calling people to let them know they’ve tested negative for the novel coronavirus, according to this Baltimore Sun article.
Are your student athletes, coaches or trainers helping out in the community? Sound off at LinkedIn.