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New training room leadership after resignations

Views 14 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 9 - 24 - 2019 | By: Kiani Hildebrandt


Have you ever been taught to swim by being thrown in the deep end? This happened to Melissa Katherman, who is the acting Head Athletic Trainer at Westmont. Melissa was hired in the summer to be an associate athletic trainer under Bryan Tran, but after just three weeks on the job, was elevated on an interim basis due to staff changes.

Last year the head trainer was Maria Rivera. She resigned from her position this past summer to develop the sports medicine program at Santa Barbara High School. Tran, who was Associate Athletic Trainer for two years under Rivera, was then promoted to Head Athletic Trainer. But Tran, who was highly respected by athletes and coaches, announced three weeks ago that he was leaving to take up a position at Brentwood School, a private K-12 school located in Los Angeles. This left Katherman in over her head trying to provide care to 17 men’s and women’s teams.

“At first I was very overwhelmed,” said Katherman. “I was only here for three weeks before I found out [that’d I’d be head athletic trainer], but it became exciting.”

Katherman quickly found support among not only the athletes, but also the coaches, sports administration, and the student athletic trainers. “In the midst of being overwhelmed, the coaches and staff and administration were so supportive that the feeling of being overwhelmed went away,” she said.

Ashlynn Van Wingerden, a fourth-year student athletic trainer, said, “Melissa is a godsend.” The student athletic trainers are a vital part of running the training room.

“The students have helped me transition into this role,” said Katherman. “Utilizing their knowledge and asking them questions has been very helpful, especially with their checkoff lists.” The checkoff lists are tasks that the student trainers need to complete during their first year on the job. Items to be checked off can include anything from learning how to tape ankles, performing heat and ice procedures, and doing laundry for the teams’ jerseys and practice gear.

“[Melissa] is super excited to be here and to help everyone,” said Taylor Rarick, a third-year women’s basketball player. “She’s ... energetic and willing to do whatever she can. She’s always there for me even if I text her a question at night.”

Katherman mentioned that working with the student athletes has been amazing. “The culture of Westmont is different in the best way,” she said. “I love how they’re so open talking about their faith and how they talk so supportively about each other.

“The athletes have been very supportive in this transition period, they understand that we are short staffed and will get to them as quickly as possible,” she continued.

Even though Katherman and the athletic training staff are spread thin, they are determined to give the best possible care to every single athlete that comes to see them. “As a team, it’s noticeable that she cares about our physical health,” said Sydny Dunn, a second-year volleyball player.

Women’s basketball head coach and associate athletic director, Kirsten Moore, said, “[Melissa] is unflappable. She’s shown great adaptability and has stepped up in unexpected situations.”

Robbie Anderson, second year student athletic trainer, said, “[Melissa] is patient, joyful, and persistent.” To students like Anderson, the athletic training room has become a second home.

Anderson said, “The community is my favorite part. It’s not work, it’s more like a hobby I love. I love the opportunity to get to know, and care for the student athletes on a deeper level. It brings me joy. ”


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