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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

SJVC Temecula Respiratory Therapy team brings home the Big Win

August 4, 2015

SJVC Temecula wins Respiratory Therapy State Sputum BowlThe Temecula campus‘ first Sputum Bowl win back in 2013 could have just been a bit of luck. But collecting a second victory the following year earned Temecula’s Respiratory Therapy team and program some definite buzz among competing colleges. This year’s third straight win sealed the deal on their reigning dominance in this statewide competition.

“We didn’t feel like we were dominant, going in,” says Catarina Silva, Respiratory Therapy student and Team Captain for SJVC’s Shunts and Giggles team. “We knew we were targeted; the team everyone wanted to beat.”

The Sputum Bowl took place on June 2nd in Sonoma, Calif., as part of the annual California Society for Respiratory Care (CSRC) convention. The four-day event gave the over 400 attendees the opportunity to attend presentations, network with those in their field and join in as spectators at the Sputum Bowl.

SJVC’s Sputum Bowl team included Catarina Silva (Captain), Kelsey Penny and Quinn McNichols, who had been drilling for competition since January.

“They practiced every week and were required to write questions to add to our bank of questions, as well as practice answering questions that I read off,” says Shannon Cocilova, Director of Clinical Education and team coach.

The SJVC team had to prepare for and compete in the competition while maintaining regular school, studies and homework assignments. They also paid all of their own expenses to attend the conference.

“Our students held a fundraiser to help with their travel expenses,” says Shannon. “They organized a walk-a-thon in which they raised a little over $1,200 to help fund their trip.”

The Bowl drew huge crowds that rooted enthusiastically for their favorites of the 16 teams from 15 colleges. Each team was determined to be the last one standing.

The competition was a double elimination format, where each of the two competing teams could buzz in to score a point for a correct answer – or lose a point, if they answered incorrectly. “We were never calm, cool and collected,” admits Catarina.

Whatever little bit of cool they might have had disappeared when they lost the third round of competition and found themselves in the losing bracket of teams. The audience was merciless in celebrating each of Shunts and Giggles’ wrong answers and round losses.

“They wanted our blood,” says Catarina. “Whenever the other team would answer correctly, the whole crowd would cheer for them. Everybody wanted to see the big team go down!”

They managed a comeback, winning the next three rounds to qualify for the finals.

But before their team went into the final rounds, Catarina, Kelsey and Quinn gave themselves a pep talk – and a change in strategy. “Being on the bottom was a turning point for us,” says Catarina. “We all took off on different roles and pulled it together.”

In the last match during the evening finals, the Temecula team was down 0-7 against East L.A. College. East L.A. had not lost a single round all day, and they were set on locking in the win. “They had several points on us and we knew it was do or die,” says Catarina, of playing against the undefeated team.

Suddenly, the SJVC Temecula team started stacking up a few right-answer points, and East L.A. stumbled out a string of wrong answers. Then, the last question was launched…and East L.A. buzzed in first, but answered incorrectly. The realization hit Shunts and Giggles that if they just quietly sat it out, their score would win the match.

“We were just riding out the clock at that point,” says Catarina. And what a ride that was.

“I think we were all shocked when we won,” she says. “We had pulled it together as a team.”

It was a proud moment. “All of our students have worked very hard, and I am very honored to have been along for their journey,” says Mrs. Cocilova.

Temecula’s Respiratory Therapy team managed to bring home the crown, once again. But more important to them was the realizations they brought home.

“Here at school, we really learn how to rally together,” says Catarina. “It shows we are a strong school and a force to be reckoned with. And I learned at competition that I knew more than I thought I did!”

The bad news? “Now every school wants to beat us,” laughs Catarina. “I feel so sorry for the (SJVC Temecula) teams coming up. They will have to be very strong out there.”

Is a fourth straight win in Temecula’s future? The fierce competitors that come out of such a strong Respiratory Therapy program will answer that question again next year.

For now, this winning team was given $1,000 from the CSRC to represent California at the national competition to be held in Tampa, Fla., in November. Now that is a win that would echo across the nation.