New Mexico State tennis coach doubles up as nursing assistant during pandemic

NMSU

LAS CRUCES, NEW MEXICO (KTSM) – During the  COVID-19 pandemic, everyone has had to take on roles that they’re not used to.

For New Mexico State women’s tennis coach Emily Wang, that’s meant trading in her racket for a mask and gloves as she puts her nursing background to good use working at Haciendas at Grace Village, a Las Cruces facility for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

“I’m just the type of person where I like to be very busy and do things,” Wang said.

When the NCAA canceled the spring athletics season on March 12, NMSU’s third-year tennis coach was devastated, along with her players. However, she also immediately got involved. Since late March, Wang has been helping out at haciendas at grace village, thanks to her background working in healthcare.  

“It’s a lot of fun just knowing you’re doing something good for them, especially during this time, being someone they can interact with,” Wang said.

Prior to coaching tennis full time at the collegiate level, Wang worked in health care for 8 years, including three as a certified nursing assistant (CNA). She’s been coaching for five years, but when the pandemic hit, she transferred her nursing certification to the state of New Mexico in order to help in healthcare again.

Wang’s duties at Grace Village are wide-ranging and the experience she gained during her nursing career has been vital during the pandemic.

“We take their temperature and their oxygen level to monitor and see if any of them may possibly have COVID-19,” Wang said.

That’s been beneficial; so far none of the 40 residents currently living at Grace Village have tested positive for the coronavirus. However, Wang’s infectious personality has been a breath of fresh air.

“When you’re a good person and you can have those relationship skills, they’re going to remember that person,” said operations manager Tiffany Bristol. “Maybe not your name, maybe not who you are exactly, but they’ll remember that person. She has excelled in that area.”

Wang can’t wait for next year’s tennis season, but she’s found another passion at Grace Village. She says she’d like to continue working there in edition to her coaching duties after the pandemic slows down and she’s found a way to combine both her worlds.

“Being compassionate and loving and understanding of their situations; finding out what makes them happy, what makes them sad, that’s really what I do every day with my players,” Wang said.

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