Better Together: In person bonding propelled the Dons to domination

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Illustration by Edgar Galvan

For freshman guard Sophia Escalante, last semester was a weird one. She started at SAC in Fall 2020 and all classes were online-including basketball practice.

“I was first introduced to my teammates online,” said Escalante. “It was a little weird when we first saw each other in person. We obviously knew each other but we were so used to seeing one another on tiny squares.”

Escalante adjusted to going to the gym and practicing in person. This season she earned The Don team award, and second ALL-Team in the Orange Empire Conference. 

“Being put through such a crazy year as a team really taught us to lean on each other and created the foundation of our team,” said Escalante.

The 2021-2022 school year was the first with fewer restrictions for student-athletes. Being able to build connections with teammates led all Dons to individual and team success.

The pandemic was a physical and mental struggle. Being stripped away from what they love and interactions with teammates was difficult.

“The pandemic has really altered so many aspects of our life we need gathering matter to reclaim the humanity in people,” said psychology professor Jeffrey Pedroza.

Spring sports in 2020 were cut short. A NCAA survey in the fall 2020 of student athletes found that 1 in 3 student athletes reported feeling lonely because of the pandemic.  

Fast forward to this year, the Dons are no longer lonely. Softball went 33-7 overall and won the OEC. Baseball is 31-10-1 and still going strong in playoffs.

The football team is coming off OEC champions going undefeated. Head Coach Anthony White wants to continue this winning atmosphere created with the great people on staff.

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“Recruiting student athletes that care about competition with family and unity [is key],” said coach White. “We are playing for more than ourselves, we are playing for the community. We definitely took football for granted, being with one another made us realize not to.”

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