Jzyk adapts into new role throughout COVID-19 pandemic

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ANSLEY WASHBURN/SAGAMORE STAFF

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Alex’s room has became less of a place for socializing and more for injured athletes.

Air filters, hand sanitizers and quiet conversations have replaced the crowded bodies, sweaty sports equipment and the loud buzz that once filled the basement level of the Tappan Gymnasium.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many normalities and for student athletes, including changing what they like to call,“Alex’s room”. This room, once an after school hub for student athletes to bond, has since transformed into a clean, spaced out, safe environment, ideal for rehabilitating injured athletes.

Alex Jzyk is the high school’s head athletic trainer. He is part of the school’s sports medicine program designed for rehabilitating athletes and has a two-room underground training facility, fully equipped with many appliances used to treat his athletes.

Junior Nilu Dadgar, who plays on the girls varsity soccer team, goes to Jzyk to treat her ankle injury. Dadgar said there are many differences in his room this year.

“Alex’s space is typically a place everyone goes. I remember being there last year- there were always a bunch of people in there at once. Now he’s really trying to keep everyone safe and there’s usually only a handful of people,” Dadgar said. “It’s a lot more empty. It’s obvious that he is trying to make sure there’s as few people as possible.”

In addition to limiting the number of people in his space, Jzyk has transformed his room in other ways to maximize everyone’s safety. These changes include spreading out the beds, removing some equipment, requiring masks to be worn at all times, wiping down all equipment after usage and installing four new air filtration systems to improve ventilation.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the training room was more known as a place for socializing and relaxing with friends rather than just a rehabilitation center for injured athletes. This year, the latter has been the dominating purpose of this space.

“I am seeing all the athletes who are injured and a lot less of the people just stopping in to say a quick hello or grab some Gatorade or something like that,” Jzyk said.

Senior Jimmy Ibrahim is a runner on the boys cross country team and he relies on Jzyk for treatment. He, along with many others, misses the old atmosphere of the training room. However, Ibrahim believes he has been more successful in recovery with the new environment.

“I feel like this year the changes in his room have helped me stay more focused on my rehabilitation and treatment. People are coming less to socialize and hangout and more to actually get better,” Ibrahim said.

Other student athletes have come to the same conclusion as Ibrahim. Dadgar says she felt the focus in the room shift, which allows for optimal treatment.

“It felt really easy to get help this year because when I went to get rehab there could be a lot of focus on me, partially because I was one of the only people in there. It’s sad to see how little people there are compared to last year, but when I hurt my ankle I got a lot of focus and the care I needed,” Dadgar said.

With uncertainty about whether or not high school athletes would even get a chance to compete earlier this year, Jzyk has found something to be grateful for this fall season.

“It’s about students being able to be around their friends, and compete, and get exercise and just having sports at all I’m grateful about,” Jzyk said. “I’m happy to be able to see you guys compete.”