Training day coming for CCHS grads |

Training day coming for CCHS grads

Steve Puterski
Churchill County High School senior Sheila Clifford, left, works on Lady Wave softball player Izzy Thomsa during a game this year. Clifford will volunteer with the University of Nevada's student athletic training program in the fall.
Steve Puterski / | LVN

As the presence of the sports world increases, so does caring for its athletes.

For two Churchill County High School seniors, they will begin their journey into athletic training next fall at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Shelby Lawry and Sheila Clifford were both invited into the schools’ volunteer athletic training program. The soon-to-be CCHS grads gobbled up two of the 14 positions.

The program, which is part of the E.L Cord Academic and Athletic Performance Center, consists of five full-time certified athletic trainers, three graduate assistants and the student athletic trainers.

“I am so lucky to have the chance to get into it,” Clifford said. “I need to step up my game if I want to be able to do this.”

Lending the assist, though, was CCHS Athletic Trainer Melissa Osterhage, whose connections at UNR with Cody Zimmerman, director of sports medicine, allowed Lawry and Clifford to interview for the program.

“I didn’t really plan to go into sports medicine,” Lawry said. “I took her (Osterhage’s) class and said ‘This is something I want to do.’”

The two CCHS students were impressed with the program after a field trip to the facility through Osterhage’s sports medicine class at CCHS.

Lawry and Clifford will start Aug. 1 with the Wolf Pack football program as they begin training camp. The two will also work with other sports throughout the year.

“What really got me was the field trip,” Lawry added. “We met Cody … and that really sold me.”

Clifford’s path to athletic training, meanwhile, began her junior year when she saw Osterhage’s class on the schedule. After her first week in class, Clifford knew she wanted to shoot for a career in athletic training.

“I thought it would be interesting and I’ve always loved sports,” she added. “I got into thinking it would be an easy class. It really isn’t that easy at all. It’s fun and worth it.”

Zimmerman, meanwhile, earned his undergraduate degree at Lindenwood University (Mo.) and a Master’s in Athletic Training at the University of Louisville. He also was an intern for the St. Louis Rams in the NFL.

Zimmerman said he had an informal interview with Lawry and Clifford and felt they possessed the hard working mindset he craves. In addition, Lawry said Osterhage’s persistence paved the road for her to explore the program.

“If I can thank anyone, it would be Ms. O for getting me there,” Lawry said. “I am helping Ms. O with (Fallon’s) spring football and the Reno Rodeo so I can get more experience.”

Zimmerman, though, said the program has suffered the past several years due to budget cuts and dropped the major for athletic training. Nevertheless, he wants students — whether freshmen or seniors — who possess a tireless work ethic.

“We just need hard workers,” Zimmerman said. “Anyone with any skills above that is a plus. Shelby and Sheila both had a great teacher with Melissa. I trust her with how she works with her students.”

A knowledge base doesn’t hurt either, which he said will benefit Lawry and Clifford as freshmen. Zimmerman said most newcomers to the program do not know the basics such as taping and making ice packs, but thanks to the sports medicine class and Osterhage’s tutelage, Lawry and Clifford are already ahead.

“The athletes are going to be more demanding,” Clifford said. “In college, they know exactly what they need done and how they need it done. I got to take it one day at a time.”

Time is an issue for many student trainers, Zimmerman added. Since it is a volunteer program, most of the students work a paying job plus attend school in addition to their training duties.

He said there are many instances when students cannot manage the time and wash out of the program. Despite those issues, he said the students who do commit come out with a strong knowledge base in the field.

“I’ve had juniors, seniors and grad students who come out and just don’t get it,” Zimmerman said. “Those two (Lawry and Clifford) have been around it and seen it. That will take a lot of the pressure off. I think they are going to have an easier time of getting acclimated because we won’t have to teach them from the bottom.”

The payoff for the hard work, though, comes with travelling to away games with the football team. Clifford said she hopes to earn a trip to Hawaii, perhaps the best destination of them all.

Zimmerman said last season a group of six to seven student trainers rotated between trips and each had at least four away games.

“My ultimate goal is to get good enough to go on those big trips,” Lawry said.

The student athletic training program, though, is not just for students pursuing a degree in the medical field. Zimmerman said he has had students who are majoring in business and finance who have volunteer with the program.