RCC football player, track coach talk pandemic training

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RCC defensive lineman Alex Navarro-Silva blows past the offensive line to apply pressure on the quarterback during the CCCAA championship on Dec. 14, 2019. The Tigers have not played a football game since, but are hopeful for a return to competition this year. (Angel Peña | Viewpoints)
By Daniela Ramirez

This March marks one year mark since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down campuses, and the hiatus has especially impacted athletes.

Riverside City College athletic programs have experienced a lot of challenges through the last year. 

Student-athletes have not been able to practice on campus with their coaches and teammates since last spring. Many living outside of Riverside have had to train themselves. 

Francisco Canales, a junior from Arizona, plays as a long snapper and linebacker for RCC’s football team. Over the past year, he has been training  by himself, practicing drills, cardio and keeping the right mindset.

“I feel I’ve gotten in better shape physically, but as far as the actual sport on the field, I’ve had to decline,” Canales said. 

He shared that practicing with his teammates in full gear made a difference in his performance. 

“You can simulate the game, but if you aren’t playing in the actual scenario, it’s not the same,” he said. 

Canales was told team practices would resume Jan. 3, but they have since been cancelled due to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order that was issued last month. 

Despite some pandemic-related downfalls, Canales continues to keep a great mindset about the path he is walking. Although his game plan has taken a detour, he hopes for a better future and believes that there is no point in giving up.

Before the pandemic, Canales planned to transfer to Arizona State University as a walk-on by his junior year. The pandemic changed those plans as the amount of walk-on spots declined. 

The NCAA has assured that college athletes’ playing years missed due to the pandemic will not be used against them. So Canales, even as a junior, will have three extra years ahead of him.

Although so much is out of his control, he said the pandemic has made him even more grateful and allowed him to realize nothing is guaranteed. 

But students are not the only ones hoping for a season. Coaches are planning for a return to competition this year as well. 

Nanyo Segura, the hurdles coach for the RCC track team, said he is looking forward to a successful in-person season, rather than continued Zoom meetings. 

“The season looks promising since we have been doing our best to train the student athletes from Zoom,” he said. 

Coaches provided the athletes with workout plans virtually. Segura said he knows the athletes are in shape and ready to go back to in-person training. 

Segura said, on behalf of the track team’s coaching staff, that he is excited to meet all the athletes in person once again. 

“All the coaching staff is anxious to get back and get the show on the road,” he said.