There’s more than the Academy Awards, March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate this month.
It’s also National Athletic Training Month, held every March to spread awareness about all that athletic trainers do.
“We’ve Got Your Back” is the theme of this year’s National Athletic Training Month, which is sponsored by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), a not-for-profit organization based in Dallas. Athletic Trainers (ATs) are licensed and certified health care professionals who collaborate with physicians and physical therapists (PTs). The services provided by ATs comprise prevention, emergency care, clinical assessment, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and sports-related illness.
At Cleveland High School, where two-dozen sports around the school year consume 667 athletes, trainer Jeff Archuleta has about a dozen student trainers; two of the best are seniors Miranda Sanchez and Harmony Linebrink, who got to know each other and became friends their freshman year at CHS.
He’s happy to have them.
“Miranda and Harmony have been in the sports medicine program for three years, with two of those under Karen Casedy, who is still on as the assistant athletic trainer and also an instructor at UNM in the Athletic Training education program,” Archuleta said.
“Both of these students were highly recommended to me upon my arrival and they have been a huge asset to myself and athletics at CHS,” he said. “They have assisted with almost every sport and have worked countless hours at practices, games, and in the athletic training room. While there, they have been very active in the care and rehabilitation of our athletes.
“Their maturity and ability to maintain a level of professionalism made them a vital part of what we do and I think that can be attributed to the quality of their character as well as their development and education under Mrs. Casedy at CHS,” Archuleta said. “It has been a smooth transition for all of us and I have seen the excitement that these two have when being a part of our sports med team.
“They are both very eager to learn and step up when the need arises. The passion they show on a daily basis is evident and I think will carry on to their futures, hopefully in the medical field.
Sanchez has lived in Rio Rancho since she was in the fourth grade.
Although freshmen aren’t allowed to be student trainers, that’s when she decided it was going to be a good fit for her.
“I loved anatomy and the sports side of it,” she said. As a varsity tennis player, she’s seen the benefits of knowing her body better than most athletes.
Linebrink arrived with her family in Rio Rancho in time for sixth grade.
Although she says she’s “not coordinated enough” to play sports, she enjoys watching sports. “I like the physical part of it,” she said.
Although not everyone likes the sight of blood or seeing others suffering, the two student trainers find injuries interesting: Sanchez’s favorite memory thus far was seeing a football player get a finger caught in a locker; Linebrink says she enjoys learning the recovery process, “how your body repairs itself.”
Their fascination has them planning to attend the University of New Mexico before pursuing a career in the field.
“I’m going into the athletic training program at UNM and then, hopefully, I’ll work for an NFL team like the Dallas Cowboys,” Sanchez said.
“I’m going to double-major in nursing and athletic training; I’d like to be a team nurse for the San Francisco 49ers,” Linebrink said.
Being student trainers, working under Archuleta’s supervision, has been a plus, they agreed. “Mr. A is real good,” Linebrink explained. “He is on a personal level with all his athletes.”
Sanchez laughed as she recalled one time showing an underclassman how to tape an ankle when Archuleta came up behind her and said, “Miranda, you can do better.”
She realized she could, knowing he wasn’t being critical.
Archuleta — rarely, if ever, seen in anything but shorts — thinks this duo will go far.
“(Sanchez) always takes an active part in our educational program as well as the care of our athletes. I know that if I have something that needs to be done, or a situation with a unique injury, she is the first to volunteer,” he said. “She will often help out when she can, while still finding time to focus on coursework while being a member of our varsity tennis team.
“(Linebrink) is very motivated academically and has had the goal of becoming a nurse. She takes classes at the college level in the afternoons and returns to campus to assist at games and practices, which shows her commitment and dedication to her education as well as CHS athletics,” he said.
In the future, when many of today’s student-athletes are far from the sports they once pursued, Sanchez and Linebrink may still be doing what they enjoy doing now — for good salaries, too.
“These two exemplify the work ethic and commitment that the students at Cleveland High show on a daily basis,” Archuleta noted. “They are a great representation of the sports medicine program I inherited and those expectations will continue into the future. It’s this type of student involvement that makes CHS what it is.”