Trainers save live on the sidelines

Jose Bonilla, ATC, treats an injured athlete on Rams field while student athletic trainer Malori E. Swanson observes on March 13, 2013. Photo by Shelly Scott/The Guardsman

By Dan Harrington

The Guardsman

When the body is ailing, it must have its needs met to rebuild, fortify, and create a conducive environment to transmit energy and health.

While the college and student body have been in the spotlight due to the school’s accreditation issues as of late, the fine-tuning of the student-athlete is always on the minds of two City College mentors.

Jose Bonilla and Adelita Martin are the head and assistant certified athletic trainers for all City College sport competitors. They respond to injuries with immediate treatment and long-term rehabilitation, with heavy doses of education and preventive medicine mixed in.

The goal is to provide the knowledge and direction to engender maximal performance for competing athletes wearing the college uniform.

They organize the training regimen in the athletic training room at the Wellness Center and survey the play at a bevy of contests at home, on the road and at neutral sites.

“The care of the student-athletes means everything to Jose and Addie,” Dan Hayes, physical education, dance and athletics chair, said. “They don’t look at a clock – they stay until the job is done. They don’t leave until every one of our student-athletes has been treated.”

Bonilla began his service at City College in 1991 on a part-time basis, which grew to a full-time role in 1996. Methods, as well as perception toward those who treat student-athletes, have both changed over time.

“ATC stands for ‘athletic trainer, certified,’ or just call us certified athletic trainers. Within our profession, we say, ‘Where are the ATC’s?’” Bonilla said. “Before, the players just thought we gave the water or taped an ankle. Now we’re recognized by the AMA [American Medical Association]. The NATA [National Athletic Training Association] Board of Certification certifies us to perform our jobs.”

Martin built Burlingame High School’s athletic training program from scratch ten years prior. The program grew to model status for San Mateo County. She has lent a helping hand at City College, particularly with football.

She came to City College in 2005 as a part-time employee to join Bonilla, grasping the chance to match the health-related challenges of hundreds of City College athletes.

“We’ll treat a badminton player with as much care as the starting quarterback,” Martin said.  “A swimmer is as important as a basketball player.”

When City College hosts games, they tend to possible injuries on either squad. The injured player will get immediate attention regardless of the name or logo on the uniform.

Bonilla and Martin employ largely similar techniques regardless of the sport.

“The main aspects are identifying the injury, managing and strengthening the injury, and making the part more agile. The goal is to return the athlete back to the field or court,” Bonilla said. “We want each person who enters to feel comfortable and supported, but when we focus on you we’re not going to baby-sit you.”

The NATA requires athletic trainers keep their education up to date and attend a variety of clinics and workshops to maintain certification.

“We ATC’s run in the same circles. There’s always a hunger to learn and perform the skills,” Bonilla said. “We are always on the lookout for what other techniques will make us better to help the athletes. We update on the use of modalities, such as ice, heat, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound.”

Both City College staff members have worked with the San Jose Sabercats, professional and collegiate tryout camps and high school showcases for those shooting for the highest levels in their respective sports.

“She’s the nice one,” Bonilla said. “We have the same goals and expectations. We may approach things differently, but that keeps things fresh.”

Martin and Bonilla depend on the sum of their education when they see an injury occur. Making a call on whether an individual player can continue after a possible injury is a tough but necessary task for an athletic trainer.

“If you can play, and it is safe enough for you to play, then you are in there,” Bonilla said. “If we see you incorporating muscles you shouldn’t have involved, then it’s a different story and you shouldn’t go back in.”

Enthusiastic athletes receiving therapy on training tables or counting off lunges and squats abound in the rehabilitation headquarters aisles.

“We got my back and limbs near 100 percent,” sophomore basketball player Olivia Mayorga-Overtone said. “Addie got me through the flu, too, and kept the rest of my teammates healthy.”

Mayorga-Overtone was voted to the all-state team and made her second all-conference team this year.

“Honestly, if not for Addie and Jose, I could not have achieved and helped the team goals,” Mayorga-Overtone said. “At one point our whole team was in their training room, so they really did help the team to physically perform well.”

The training room also serves as a gathering place that brings a variety of student-athletes together in one place.

“I’ve been going in there pretty much everyday of the season [for] regular ice therapy and strengthening exercises,” freshman baseball player Scott Drinkwater said. “The other cool thing is talking with the football players, the soccer players, and other athletes at City and see how they are doing in their seasons and in their goals.”

When prospective student-athletes and their parents or guardians visit Ocean campus, the training room is a focal point.

“We can honestly say our athletic trainers are the very best at the college level,” Hayes said. “They are outstanding professionally and personally.”

Aid provided by Bonilla and Martin has resonated with City College’s various coaches as well.

“They get everyone on the floor ready to compete,” said Justin Labagh, in his 10th season as men’s basketball head coach. “We are at 100 percent health thanks to them and our weight coach [John Balano] for having a successful plan of attack.”

The men’s basketball team finished the season 31-1, among the top four in all of California community colleges.

Kelly Hickey of the women’s tennis team provided some details of a trip saved.

“Our number two player was feeling nauseous on our way to play [at Monterey Peninsula College], and we needed everybody. He told me to give her a pepto-bismol, a banana and soda water,” Hickey said, referring to Bonilla’s recommendation.

The tennis player ended up playing and winning her matches.

Both certified athletic trainers have been a front-line example and resource for students searching for their career paths as well.

“We have now and have had some great student athletic trainers here at City College,” Bonilla said. “Many have gone on and furthered their health care careers in physical therapy, occupational therapy and other health related roles.”

City College athletes can sleep well at night knowing they are in the caring and professional hands of Bonilla and Martin.

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