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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

SJVC team places fourth at national Respiratory Therapy competition

October 24, 2017

SJVC representing California at national Respiratory Therapy competitionMore than 20 Respiratory Therapy teams from across the country gathered in Indianapolis, Indiana, from October 3-6 for the American Association for Respiratory Care’s (AARC) national competition. Three-player teams that had won their state competitions this year, along with a few that entered as renegade teams, went head-to-head in this elite bout held at the convention center.

As winners of the California Society for Respiratory Care’s (CSRC) competition, SJVC’s Mac Daddies geared up for national competition. The team included Temecula students Nichole Hodge, Ashley Hall and Mariah Roybal (who replaced Elena Gonzalez who graduated between state and national meets).

There was a lot of buzz around the Mac Daddies on CSRC’s website after the team took the California win on June 14th in San Diego. It was their fourth win in five years.

“Society members were actually following our students and posting every day, because our team was representing the CSRC and carrying the ball for California,” says Shannon Cocilova, Director of Clinical Education and coach for the Temecula team.

After their state win, the Mac Daddies, who were sophomores in their Respiratory Therapy program, accelerated their practices and preparation for the Nationals meet. “I told them they would have a tough road competing against senior teams,” says Shannon who, as a 2009 graduate from the Respiratory Therapy program, was even more invested in their success. “They studied their butts off and practiced every week on hitting the buzzer, timing and strategy.”

SJVC has always had a strong presence in both state and national Respiratory Therapy competitions, in which teams are separated by student and practitioner divisions. If an SJVC campus has a Respiratory Therapy program, they are grooming a team for student division competition.

“We had seven or eight teams from our campuses this year,” says Shannon. “SJVC teams are always the ones in the end rounds, and our presence shows the quality education our students are getting.”

The competition was fierce. “This year every single team was really good; the strongest competition I’ve ever seen,” says Shannon. “It came down to who could keep their calm. When you only have 10 seconds to answer, you can panic.” The Mac Daddies channeled their inner Buddha.

The Mac Daddies team established itself as one of the Big Four to watch at the Nationals. The other three major contenders were from Texas, Florida and Michigan. All four teams made it to the final of seven rounds.

A first-round stumble almost ended SJVC’s team going forward. “They lost their first match, so they had to win every single game after that,” says Shannon. In a later game, they were down by one point and buzzed in at the last second with an answer that moved them to the next round. “I really thought I was going to have a heart attack.”

The SJVC Temecula team was up against Texas for their final match. The teams squared off. In an added twist, Bonus Rounds allowed a one-time “Ask an expert” option, which a team could use for a particularly troublesome question. Mac Daddies’ designated expert was Shannon Cocilova. “I was a nervous wreck,” Shannon admits. She would be called upon for an answer in every round of competition. “Every time but one, I was pretty certain of my answer,” she says. All her answers were correct and scored plus-points for the team.

Unfortunately, Temecula’s team lost the final match to Texas. “They (Texas team) were brilliant,” affirms Shannon. “They could have beaten the practitioner team.”

The annual national competition is more than matching skill, knowledge and buzzer speed, however. The event is always an opportunity for Respiratory Therapy students to interact with their career specialty peers and meet professionals in the field.

“It was great meeting and making connections with people of all backgrounds in the respiratory care field,” says Ashley Hall, Respiratory Therapy student and a team member from the Temecula campus. “The highlight for me was being able to attend the AARC congress as a student, and being able to compete on a national platform.”

Respiratory Therapy programs on SJVC campuses across California are already gearing up for 2018’s state and national competitions.

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