Go to any practice and they are there. Go to any home game and they are there. Go anywhere with Chapman student-athletes and they are most likely there.
Chapman’s team of athletic trainers are medical professionals whose job it is to prevent and treat injuries of student-athletes. Their profession is closer to that of a doctor than a trainer at a gym.
“Athletic trainers are health care providers – we are a part of the medical profession,” said Pam Gibbons, director of athletic training and sports medicine. “We’re not like fitness buffs or anything like that. We’re actually trained in care prevention treatment of athletic training.”
Beginning as a part-time assistant in 1991, Gibbons has worked her way up to the head of the athletic training department. And as the program has grown, so has her job, as she says she treats around 40 to 50 student-athletes a day.
“That doesn’t include all of the student-athletes that need tape or stretching or a basic maintenance type thing,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons manages all these students with a relatively small team of athletic trainers and graduate students. One of these athletic trainers is Chapman alumna Katy Cohen.
“I was an athlete growing up, had multiple injuries, was around athletic training because of those injuries and it just intrigued me,” Cohen said. “So I pursued it during school and graduated from Chapman.”
Cohen’s personal experience with athletics has helped her develop relationships with the athletes – relationships that are vital to the success of her profession.
“I’m with them six, sometimes seven days a week for multiple hours,” Cohen said. “If I’m not building relationships with the athletes, I’m not doing my job.”
Gibbons agreed, adding that relationships are crucial to giving quality care to the athletes.
“The athletes have to trust that you’re an advocate for them,” Gibbons said. “You really have got to develop relationships so they are comfortable coming to you with concerns.”
Women’s soccer senior goalkeeper Kristin Kleinow said she was indebted to the trainers throughout her four-year athletic career.
“Our athletic trainers are amazing,” Kleinow said. “Even if they are not assigned specifically to your team, they are always willing to help you. Our trainers, Katy Cohen and Andrea Vega, were so helpful. They always taped, stretched, iced and massaged me to make sure that I was always able to play. Even if something small was bothering me, they always put their 200 percent effort into helping me deal with it so I could keep playing.”
Gibbons appreciates the constant activity her job requires.
“Every day is different,” Gibbons said. “I don’t sit at a desk and stare at a computer screen all day. I’m interacting with young people, which keeps me young. I’m always learning. There’s always something new and different that you’re doing. Just being out and with competitive athletes is exciting.”