Behind every Palomar athlete there is a separate entity responsible for keeping them primed at peak physical performance.
The Palomar athletic training facility has been a safe haven for athletes to maintain a healthy and well-functioning body and come to be repaired and rejuvenated. The damage inflicted on the field, pool, court or arena, is mended in the athletic training facility.
Palomar’s athletes are the machines and the athletic trainers are the mechanics.
The constant flow of athletes require facilities to be broken down into three rooms. The first room is utilized for taping stations, the ice machine and an open space for functional treatments.
The back room along with an office for Athletic Training students is housed with exam tables, ice bags, hot moist packs, ultra sound and modalities ranging from electrical stimulation to Pre-Mod and even Biphasic physical therapy techniques.
Assistant Trainer Dennis Greenhill, SDSU alumni and previous head trainer at Scripps Ranch High School, has seen his day on the battlefield of athletes and injuries. Previously, he worked through the U.S. Olympic Committee with national teams, in minor league hockey, and then in arena football before he came to Palomar. A veteran of the trade, he’s been working here for eight years.
“It’s just kind of an open door policy. We try to get the kids to understand that we’re here as advocates for the athletes. We’re here to protect you, we’re here to make you better, we’re here to get you out there to do what you do,” Greenhill said.
Comets softball second baseman Brooke Huddleson, 21, has been a regular at the athletic facility after racking up various injuries.
“I dislocated my right knee cap in the fall, had to get surgery on my shoulder a couple years ago and tore my labrum and rotater cuff. It’s super beneficial for me to come in and use Stem and ultra sound. I can tell a big difference from the beginning of the season until now,” she said.
Huddleson also took a moment to say how friendly the staff is.
Amber Gates (student trainer) is my best friend, I get along with all of the trainers. They are the real homies,” Huddleson said.
Even with the open door policy and a friendly demeanor with the student athletes, the trainer faculty run a tight shift and keep it professional.
The athletic training staff is charged with anything from prevention to simple taping, preparing water ready for games and practice, evaluations, all the way to emergency medicine for about 425 athletes across 22 sports. These trainers are equipped and on their toes for any disaster or injury that may occur.
“We’ve had to fix fractures where both bones in the lower leg break. And so now you see this huge step down. We’ve deployed the AED a couple of times and oddly enough the two times we had to deploy the AED it wasn’t for athletes, it was for fans. That’s what we do, we are most skilled medical staff closest to the situation,” Greenhill said.
This facility’s certified staff are comprised of one full-time trainer, Greenhill as a 3/4-time staffer, and one hourly position. Depending on the year there are also five to 10 student trainers who work as interns or paid employees. Students gain experience and see if the field of physical training is something they are interested in, or by gaining experience find out if there is specific component of interest in what the trainers do.
Student athletic trainer Renee Willrodt, 20, told The Telescope why she enjoys gaining experience here at Palomar’s training facility.
“I started back in high school and got an A in my physical trainer class. I fell in love with the relationships you build with the athletes and the experience you get. It never gets boring; there’s always a new injury, always a new problem you have to solve,” she said.
According to Greenhill, things are on the road of change for the athletic facility. Upcoming construction of new fields and building for sport purposes underway will include the creation of a new athletic facility on the other side of campus.
“I think what were working toward is just modernizing the program itself, the new facilities that are being built on the other end of campus are something we are going to be part of, ” Greenhill said.
Season after season, Palomar’s athletic trainers maintain Palomar athletes’ health and well being, mending and preserving them. They serve as advocates to insure victories for every sport on campus.