You’ve seen them at all the sporting events. They run out onto the field, the court, or standd cheering on the sideline. Most people, though they see them, don’t notice them or simply ignore them. I’m talking about Clay, Darlene, Anahi, Stephanie, Kassandra, Rafael, and Brianna.
They are the San Elizario Athletic Trainers.
Clay Apodaca has a fantastic group of students in his program. Each one of them is a strong, caring example of leadership and what it means to help your fellow student, no matter what has happened.
The Athletic Trainers work with athletes of all ages and skill levels to help prevent injuries they may have received during a game or training.
During the school day, you’ll see players from all sports come into the office for treatment, have a knee wrapped, or even just to talk.
For much this, these students play a crucial role.
“They help with the flow of making sure everybody’s seen, making sure everybody’s taken care of, and they’re the first ones to point out if something is wrong or if I need to take a look at it personally,” said Clay. “I’ve taught them enough hands-on skills that they can handle most of what goes on in here. On the field too, I’ve seen them doing stretches and working on things.”
It’s a lot of work and a hard job for them. When someone on the football field is injured, or someone playing basketball runs full-on into the wall, they are there, working to make sure that the player is okay and will get on the road to recovery.
“I guess I like to think of myself as the first stop,” said Clay. “I would like people to know that I’m the first stop and not the final stop. I think there’s a lot of athletic trainers that you talk to and kind of interact with and they think that they’re the end of the road when really, they’re the beginning. So, I like to be the beginning of the road for somebody who needs to see a doctor and making sure that they see the right person and not getting the run-around. I have certain contacts that I can be in communication with to making sure that these kids have the best medical advice and treatment that they can possibly get.”
According to the Student Athletic Trainers, it’s harder on Clay.
“How do we feel like organizations not treating us how we deserve?” asked Anahi. “I guess like football. Sure, they recognize us and stuff, but not all the time. More basketball or baseball when, not just us, but like Clay, specifically. He’s always there for every game, and they don’t take the time to say Oh thank you for staying because he has a family. He takes the time away from being with his family to be here. I mean that’s his job obviously, but I feel like you should be more appreciated for every time he does.”
When I asked them what they would like to say to Clay, in unison, they all responded with “thank you.”
Brianna went a bit further, saying, “You saved a lot of us. You saved me.”
(For more information on that, be sure to watch the videos down below or up above)
“He’s the light in a dark tunnel that you need sometimes,” said Darlene. “Like having a rough day, getting here and seeing his goofy self makes things a little better.”
I agree with Darlene – not the goofy part (well, maybe). When I see Clay or talk to him, he’s genuine. He cares.
I want to close with this article with a thought as well as an observation.
Teachers like Clay are hard to find. I’ve known teachers who struggle to connect with a student who has put up too many walls and barriers. Clay has broken through and reached so many students and players.
While talking with the Student Athletic Trainers, I was taken aback when Brianna said that Clay saved her. How many of us can say a teacher has done that for us? I know I can’t.
Then, there are these six amazing young adults who are going to make a change in our world. With them, our future is in good hands.
What stands out, with the AT students, is their desire to help regardless of how they are treated. They’ve been yelled at, ignored, forgotten, and underappreciated – as has Clay – and they are still out there, willing to give of themselves.
Clay, Darlene, Anahi, Stephanie, Kassandra, Rafael, and Brianna have shown me that we can all be better – better friends, neighbours, caregivers, people.
I can write about them all day. What would be even better is for you to hear it from them yourselves. Take a moment and watch the videos. When you watch them all the way through, you’ll be amazed as well as inspired.