Orange Coast College’s student athletic trainer program helps hopeful athletic trainers succeed in their intended field by allowing them to get hands-on experience.

Led by co-head athletic trainers Isabel Archuleta and Chaz Kekipi, students in the program gain knowledge in the classroom and on student athletes at OCC.

“What we do here is prevention care, treatments of athletic injuries and illness,” Archuleta said. “Our philosophy here is we want to empower student athletes with information and being able to help themselves.”

It may appear like all they do is bring water and ice, but these student trainers do much more. Students are equipped to assist Archuleta and Kekipi in any situation. All staff has training in taping, icing, heat, injury prevention and rehabilitation, and automated external defibrillators (AED).

Many of the student trainers have previous high school experiences with injuries that helped get them interested in the kinesiology program.

Freshmen Andrea Vazquez and Marcos Linares became interested in athletic training after getting injured in their sports during high school.

Linares gravitated toward athletic training after working with the Costa Mesa High School athletic trainers to rehabilitate him after a wrestling injury. Vazquez got her start after she was treated for a sprained ankle.

Students interested in athletic training are able to grow their passion in the four-semester progression of courses and practicums.

“After your first level semester, you get an assigned sport,” Linares said. Linares and Vazquez are assigned to work mostly with the men’s volleyball team. They work with and treat the players who come in for treatment before and after games and practices.

During down time, trainers assist wherever they are needed.

While the students in the training program can’t singularly diagnose or treat athletes on their own, they are guided by years of experience from Kekipi and Archuleta.

Yutaro Yamamura is in his fourth level of the student trainer progression. The native of Japan has previous experience in chiropractic care and came to OCC to further his educational career and study athletic training.

On top of all other general education classes, the student trainers put in time during their kinesiology classes and in the athletic training room helping student athletes.

Students have set hours they need to complete each week in the training room. Many students far exceed their required hours due to their passion of learning, according to Kekipi.

This education program helps refine vital skills needed to be an athletic trainer.

More than 10 former student trainers who have come through the program in recent years have transferred to higher level education in kinesiology. Many go on to intern at local physical therapy offices.

The goal of the program is for students to become more comfortable with athletic training, give them resources to succeed and assist them to transfer to a four-year university in order to become certified as a trainer.

With connections in higher level education, OCC’s student athletic training program allows students to pursue their passion of helping others heal.

The student athletic trainers are gearing up to celebrate National Athletic Training Awareness Month in March.

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