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Hop along, Casedy: CHS trainer heads to UNM

Although Cleveland High School didn’t expect to lose any coaches to retirement or other parting of the ways after the 2012-13 school year ended — you’ll remember new football, girls soccer, volleyball and softball coaches were hired before the year began — the school is losing one of its key athletic positions.

Athletic trainer Karen Casedy announced this spring that she has a new job.

“It is with a heavy heart that I leave Cleveland,” Casedy said. “However, I am excited to go on to (the University of New Mexico) and be a part of teaching our future athletic trainers.

“Another exciting aspect of my job at UNM will be working with the high schools in providing internships for the college students,” she said.

Casedy reflected on her career in Rio Rancho Public Schools.

“I first came to RRPS in 2002 from Moriarty, where I (first) taught at the Mid-High and worked with Melissa (Loiacono, head trainer) at the high school. I stayed at the Mid-High for six years, primarily because I knew Cleveland High School was coming and it was my desire to be a part of the new school.”

Thus, when the doors of CHS opened in August 2009, Casedy was there, as one of those doors opened to her as the first athletic trainer for the Storm.

“I have never had a better experience and would not trade it for anything,” Casedy said of her four years at CHS. “It has been a pleasure to work in such a wonderful community with great kids — I will miss all of it.”

Even those days that never seem to end?

“Athletic trainers work long hours and do not have the luxury of resting when a season is over because the next season has already begun,” Casedy said. “My day starts at 6 in the morning and may not end until 10 or 11 at night.

“I have completed a 40-hour work week around Wednesday — and the week is long from over. It has been said that athletic training is a thankless job, and to a large extent that is true.  However, we, as athletic trainers, don’t do what we do for accolades,” Casedy said. “Our sense of accomplishment and satisfaction comes from the results of our work.  For instance:  I am the one who responds to the athlete who gets injured on the field/court.  I send him or her to get further diagnostic testing.  I see that athlete possibly get surgery.  I help that athlete return to his/her pre-injury state through a long and, at times, arduous rehabilitation program.

“Finally, I am there when that athlete returns, successfully, back to their sport.  That is where my success comes from,” she said. “That is where my sense of accomplishment and ‘thanks’ comes from — although I will say it is a blessing when I get the occasional card or bouquet of flowers from a parent thanking me for helping their child. ”

CHS Athletic Coordinator Larry Chavez, who said two or three competent applicants will be interviewed in early June and the position filled before June ends, said he’s sorry to see Casedy go.

“Karen’s going to be sorely missed,” he said. “Karen and I worked together 10 or 11 years, dating back to the Mid-High, when we were both PE teachers. She did a great job — coaches were disappointed when they heard she was leaving. She worked well with Annette (Castillo, athletics secretary) getting kids’ physicals lined up and all the paperwork.”

The Storm coaches, Chavez and Castillo, and Principal Scott Affentranger helped make Casedy’s job easier than normal.

“I feel my success, here at Cleveland, in building a quality athletic training program is largely due to the support and respect of the people I work with,” Casedy said. “I can’t tell you how many times I hear people who see our facilities say, ‘Wow, you must love working here.’ And, of course I agree.

“But it’s more than the facilities, or the graduation rate, or even the success in our athletic programs.  It’s the people and the students I get to work with every day that make it worthwhile to be at Cleveland.”

She’ll be back, she promised.

“I plan on coming to events every chance I get and cheer on the Storm,” she said. “I know this might sound silly — and I feel I can say this on behalf of all the athletic staff here – at Cleveland, we feel we are Storm. We are all proud to wear the colors and sing the fight song. So, my heart will always carry a piece of the Storm in it.”