ABOVE: Myra Tiu, graduate assistant, stretches out athlete during therapy session. (Daegiona Wilson/Staff photographer)

By Daegiona Wilson
Sports Editor

Change is everywhere in our lives. The athletic training staff has modified their routine to maintain a healthy atmosphere.

The AT room is known to be a hot spot on campus due to the number of student-athletes the campus possesses. Whether it be an injury, surgical rehab, or injury prevention treatment, the AT room is the place to go.

Now, this necessity for athletes looks different. Lock Schnelle, head athletic trainer, said, “We have fewer tables, more space, and we are requiring everyone to create an appointment to come in.”

Schnelle said this wasn’t an automatic process. “It started with meetings back in May, and we added meetings throughout the summer. Whether it be the COVID-19 committee on the college side or the athletic side, we were just trying to catch any scenarios or concerns that we might have, and deal with how we would address them.”

One of the biggest differences is the number of people allowed in the room. “Last year we could have 30 plus in here easily, but now we are trying to limit it to about ten,” said Schnelle. “We put a hydrocollator, stretching straps, and foam rollers down by football so we could hopefully get some of the traffic out in here.”

Other things such as lotion and band-aides are stationed in the hallway, for quick fixes.

Sway is an app implemented to monitor COVID-19 symptoms as well as test concussions. This limits the number of contact athletes have with one another and allows AT’s and coaches to spot any sickness sooner rather than later.

Lezlee Dixson, senior spiker, said “I feel really safe.”

“It’s nice to know if I touch a table, it is clean, or if I come in here, it’s not a lot of people.”

Although the changes are steady happening within the AT room, Schnelle said, “it’s not necessarily more stressful, but more of an all hands on deck deal.”

Myra Tiu, graduate assistant, said “It’s just a lot of extra things to keep in mind. Especially with Locke, he’s always gone with meetings so he has to do those on top of everything here.”

Along with Tiu, three additional graduate assistants keep things in line and has been there when Schnelle or Nathan Morrison, assistant athletic trainer, has needed a little extra help.

“Here it’s like you got to make sure you are on top of things because you have to remember your athletes and what all is going on,” said Tiu.

“There are a lot of balls to juggle every day. Each day is a new day with one kid being sick, or another leaving the state, or one with an actual injury” said Schnelle, “We never know. There is always something new that is coming.”

Even with a list of tasks, the AT team finds time to connect with athletes.

Dixson said, “I think they are some of the friendliest people and they are close to our age so we can joke with them. They understand what we are going through, some of them were student-athletes before they came here and so like that’s nice.”

Dixson is also highly satisfied with all the new modifications.

“No people are getting in the way of your rehab, there’s more space to do it so you’re not competing with people for space, and a lot of us have similar injuries or are working out on the same things, so it is easier when you aren’t sharing the same ball or same band.”

Although she understands the importance of wearing a mask she said it’s difficult when doing treatments.

“I do hate rehabbing in the mask because it gets super-hot in it. You just start sweating more, it’s harder, and I have to take more breaks because you’re just breathing in hot air” said Dixson. “I learned that cloth masks and the SC ones are not good. The blue medical mask is a bit better because they are a little more breathable.”

Although change is presenting itself, the AT team is trusting their process and are sticking to the game plan so that they can give their best effort for the sake of student-athletes.

“We started back in July with ideas and how we started implementing those ideas. Some work better than others, but it’s like we kind of see what we can change and what we can do better because we haven’t experienced a game yet.” Said Schnelle. “We have ideas on what we are going to do with the game and after the first game we will probably have to sit down and be like, well that was a good idea, and that was a terrible idea, and change it for the next game.”

This dedication isn’t anything new, as Dixson said, “they work hard and I think their treatment plans are always great. What they are doing is good. They keep us healthy, and keep us going.”