From sports to nursing: how athletes fight coronavirus

From sports to nursing: how athletes fight coronavirus

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed the good old world. Sport was put on hold in almost all countries. However, athletes, coaches, and coaching staff members don’t sit idly. They are now on the frontlines fighting the virus. Lancasteronline.com reports in its article Former Cocalico cheerleaders, lacrosse standouts now fighting COVID-19 as nurses on Cocalico High School graduates.

Twins Kari and Avery Longstaff are former cross country and girls lacrosse standouts who went on to play lacrosse at Temple University, graduating in 2016. “There are plenty of parallels between being an athlete and being a nurse,” Avery Longstaff said. “Both require a certain level of mental toughness and an understanding that no matter how bad the conditions are, you have to be able to adapt, trust your teammates, and execute the game plan.” Avery recently completed a contract as a travel nurse at The Children’s Hospital of Colorado and was planning on working there through the summer. Then the coronavirus emerged. Kari works on a floor that specializes in lung and liver transplants, but has been assisting on a floor with COVID-19 patients. “The more that I saw my mom and my sister both stepping up in their hospitals' COVID-19 response, the more I started to feel an obligation to get involved,” Avery Longstaff said. “So I started looking into the best way to do that and decided to postpone my next phase in Colorado to volunteer for the Medical Reserve Corps of Philadelphia.”

At other Pennsylvanian High School, Garden Spot, volleyball coaches Lauren DiPiano and Josiah Williams fighting COVID-19 as local nurses, Lancasteronline.com reports in its article Passionate to help patients, Garden Spot volleyball coaches fighting COVID-19 as local nurses. After graduating from Garden Spot in 2012, DiPiano and Williams both went on to earn nursing degrees, DiPiano from Eastern University and Williams from Liberty University. They reunited back at Garden Spot last year, DiPiano taking over as the Spartans’ head girls volleyball coach after a playing career at Eastern, and Williams as a trusty assistant on her staff. They share a common goal: Protecting their patients, protecting the community and, ultimately, stopping the spread of coronavirus. “There are good days and bad days, and there is anxiety and some unknowns,” DiPiano said. “But as a nurse, I’m here to help people. That’s what drives me. And what a time it is to be a nurse, especially being able to help bring a new life into the world.” Nursing is in Williams’ genes. He previously worked in the emergency room at Lynchburg General Hospital in Virginia. Williams and DiPiano are both passionate about their work, and attack each shift accordingly. They’re both proud to be serving as nurses during this difficult time, when there is so much uncertainty.  At which time DiPiano and Williams will reconvene back on the volleyball court at Garden Spot to coach the Spartans later this fall.

Canadian broadcasting corporation CBC paid attention to the story of two Former Olympic swimmers Michelle Toro and Heather MacLean. Today the women work as nurses at Toronto hospitals. They credit their training as elite athletes and their time on Canada's national swim team for helping to prepare them for their medical careers. "In a code situation, where a lot is happening at once, you need to think quickly," said Toro, a member of the 4x100-metre freestyle relay team that earned a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. "I find when I am in situations like that, I do feel like I can kind of slow it down in my head. Just use the techniques that I used as an athlete [to] narrow my focus and think more sharply and just do what needs to be done in that moment." MacLean, part of the 4x100 freestyle relay team that finished 11th at the 2012 London Games, compares the stress of an Olympic year to the apprehension many healthcare workers are experiencing while facing COVID-19. "Right now, going into the hospital, the feelings that I have are quite similar to that of the Olympic year, not being able to sleep because of anxiety and not knowing what the future holds," she said. "Just prepping for the Olympics and now, just prepping for COVID-19, you can say there's similar feeling of fear and anxiety. Except the [stress of the] Olympics ended in six months."

American media portal Tewksbury Town Crier reports on a Worcester State University student Karalyn Gallella. She had already played her final game in a basketball uniform when the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head, cancelling the seasons for five of the University’s 20 varsity athletic teams. Karalyn was wrapping up the last of her coursework and finishing her clinical rotations in preparation to walk across the stage at the DCU Center in May to receive her diploma. Instead, however, Karalyn is back in her hometown of Tewksbury, Mass., completing the final semester of her senior year remotely, and working directly on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Karalyn Gallella is a healthcare hero. Karalyn works as a nursing assistant in the float pool at Beth Israel Lahey Health in Burlington. Working in the float pool, upon arriving at the hospital, Karalyn is sent to whichever floor or unit requires extra assistance. Recently, however, she has found herself sent to the COVID-positive units more regularly than anywhere else. Some of the lessons Karalyn learned on the basketball court have translated directly to her job at the hospital during the pandemic. “On a team, you learn how to work well with others to get to a common goal,” she said. “This is similar to the pandemic. Everyone is doing everything they can to keep themselves safe, while also helping others fight this virus and defeat it.”

In Russia, people who have twisted their fortune with sports didn’t stay indifferent to the common misfortune. Nikita Karlitskiy, a doctor of Lokomotiv Moscow Football Club, and his brother Ilya Karlitsky, a doctor of the Russian Olympic Beach Volleyball Team, became volunteers at the FMBA Ororhinolaryngology Center which was transformed into a hospital for COVID-positive patients. In his interview to RB-Sport, Nikita said: “We could stay at home but we’re tired of that. It’s not about bombast. The hospital needed people, and we were free anyway as there are no football practices during the quarantine. We felt responsible as doctors. We wanted to help our colleagues.”

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