homepage logo

Students inspired to pursue careers as athletic trainers

By Staff | Jul 14, 2011

Brenna Nakamura (center) and Amanda Arakawa (right) attended the 2011 Student Athletic Trainers Workshop. Also pictured is Kekuu Haake, a team manager.

LAHAINA — The 2010-11 school year at Lahainaluna High School will long be remembered as a high water mark for sports accomplishments in the rich tradition of the historic West Maui campus.

With eight Maui Interscholastic League championships and three second place finishes, the rising red tide of Luna teams’ athletic superiority continued on an upward curve as steep as the majestic slopes of the Valley Isle.

For Lahainaluna Athletic Director Scott Soldwisch, an important factor in that climb to the top can be attributed to the quality care provided by Athletic Trainers Jon Conrad and Mikala Pino to the Lunas.

“I consider them (Conrad and Pino) as coaches, as my colleagues. I know that all of our coaches feel the same way, too,” said Soldwisch last week.

“At our athletic banquet at the end of the school year, all of the coaches spoke of their appreciation and gratitude to them as being key components to their teams’ success.”

And, with the statewide effort to attract more high school students into the athletic trainers’ occupational field, the future of the success curve at Lahainaluna and across the MIL and state looks to continue on that positive climb. Last month for example, some 60 high schoolers attended the 2011 Student Athletic Trainers Workshop at Roosevelt High School in Honolulu.

Conrad, Pino and two aspiring Lahainaluna athletic trainers — Amanda Arakawa and Devyn Wyckoff — attended the event and came away further inspired to gain the education to continue the effort to nurture young student athletes.

“The knowledge in the field is increasing, and the scope of treatment and rehabilitation protocol is expanding,” explained Coach Conrad from the state-of-the-art athletic facility on the Lahainaluna campus last week.

“For example, there is widespread action regarding concussions these days, with states like Washington and Oregon having implemented laws to establish baseline testing for concussions and further details of return to play protocol. The thinking is going toward long term safety.”

Put on by University of Hawaii athletic trainer students pursuing doctorate degrees, the event was a unique and valuable opportunity for the attendees.

The sessions were broken down into groups for 20-minute seminars on various body sections and parts. The instruction involved the added dimension of using preserved body parts.

“This was a way to see human body and tissues that are not deteriorated,” explained Conrad. “The students held heads, lungs, feet and all body parts, and could observe them with the skin and tissues removed, all in a preserved state. This was a great teaching aid that would only be available in a cadaver lab or in medical school.”

For senior-to-be Arakawa and 2011 graduate Wyckoff, the workshop was both interesting and career inspiring.

“I began this pathway as a sophomore with Trainer Jon and also with the HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) program under Malia Shimomura at Lahainaluna,” said Arakawa, who worked alongside classmate Brenna Nakamura in the process to learn to be an athletic trainer.

“I stayed after school three days a week working with Mikala and Jon and spent time in the trainers’ room with the athletes. It all became a passion for me.”

She now sees her future at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas to study to be an athletic trainer.

Wyckoff will attend Northern Arizona University this fall on a similar pathway.

“The experience with Lahainaluna, Jon and Mikala, and at the workshop really convinced me to pursue this career. I did my senior project with Coach Jon, and the hands-on aspect of the workshop really helped — very informative. After graduation, I hope to work at the high school level and then, hopefully, professionally.”

Soldwisch added that there is a shortage of athletic trainers in Hawaii, and that need is starting to be filled with the advancement of these efforts to educate more young people for this field.

“It is really tough to get people to fill these positions. There are schools here on Maui that are looking for athletic trainers right now. There is a huge need — that is the big picture — and we are starting to fill that need,” he said.

“The effort of Jon and Mikala here is so much appreciated. The success of the teams and the success of the kids getting into the athletic trainers’ programs are testaments to them.”