COVID-19 strikes out the SBCC Academic Achievement Zone

Screengrab+of+the+Academic+Achievement+Zone+website+where+student+athletes+can+go+for+assistance+in+completing+their+educational+goals.

Desiree Erdmann

Screengrab of the Academic Achievement Zone website where student athletes can go for assistance in completing their educational goals.

Dylan Grausz, Staff Writer

The Academic Achievement Zone is responsible for helping student-athletes achieve their academic goals but has seen a significant decrease in attendance due to COVID-19.

The program is like a study hall for athletes who can also come and receive tutoring services. Student Program Advisor Michael Gamboa currently runs the program in an online-only format.

“All first-year student-athletes have to go to the achievement zone at least three hours a week,” Gamboa said. “In-season athletes need to be in the zone during their season, but if you are out of season it is not necessarily required.”

The site currently receives 100-200 visits per week. Gamboa said that prior to the pandemic they would receive around 2,000 visits per semester.

The decrease in attendance is a result of City College opting out of both the early 2021 Spring and late 2021 Spring seasons, which caused an overall drop in student-athletes. 

In prior years the achievement zone would meet in PE 214 from 8 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday. It was also open three evenings a week for student-athletes who were unable to attend during the day. 

“There is a virtual Academic Achievement Zone where the student-athletes make an appointment on Starfish with me and I try to help them with what they need,” Gamboa said.

While first-year student-athletes are required to go to the achievement zone, second-year student-athletes go depending on what their coach says.

Former City College softball coach Paula Congleton initially brought up the idea for the program to the Faculty Partnership for Student Success, which then enabled it to receive funding.

Math Professor Pam Guenther was a member of the council back when the program was proposed.

“The zone was created around 2006,” Guenther said. “In addition to the funding from the committee, Paula was able to secure additional funding as well.”

With Congleton no longer at City College, Gamboa has been running the site since she left.

Gamboa said he is hopeful that the program will be able to hold its classes in their pre-pandemic location next fall, and that sports will finally come back.

The status for Fall 2021 is mostly dependent on county protocols, but he thinks they should be able to meet in some way that isn’t completely online.

“What we will possibly do is have class take place out on the La Playa Stadium track in order for proper social distancing to take place,” Gamboa said.

City College has yet to announce plans for the fall semester, so the future of the achievement zone is up in the air.

Until then, Academic Achievement Zone officials will wait for that announcement and continue their services online.